July 24, 2021
Aloha friends and fam! Today we are embarking on our most exciting adventure— SCUBA! We woke up early to get extra prepared for our first day of diving. After a night sleeping under the stars, everyone was already feeling super connected to the Big Island and were ready to see the rest from below the waves! We loaded up the van from the campsite after a bussin’ muffin breakfast and headed to downtown Kona. Playing some classic Hawaiian tunes pumped up the certification students before they were dropped at the pool to begin their first classes. Liza, Mary Elle, Alan and Rowan met with Carlos, their Open Water instructor, to start learning the ins and outs of breathing underwater before putting into practice at the dive shop pool. In the meantime, the certified divers headed to the Harbor to hop on the NaPali Kai with guides Jim and Caitlyn. The first dive started out solid, with Emma, Gloria, Rose, Shuford, Piers and Hunter spotting a group of swimming dolphins. Will had the most envious sighting of the day (and possibly the whole trip) when he came within feet of a cruising tiger shark. SO cool. Clay, proving to be a real mvp, held down the boat and wowed the group with his unwavering positive attitude. After a wonderful and colorful second dive, the group celebrated with ice cream sandwiches back at the Harbor. Logan, Meredith, and the rest of the pool crew scooped up the group in the van to head back into town. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Kona, seeing brand new sights, and washing some smelly clothes. Emma and Rowan made friends with a local kid and played some games in the parking lot while waiting for the laundry to finish. We headed back to Hookena with just enough time to watch a beautiful sunset as the group prepped for dinner. This meal was a total surprise to the leaders— the group took charge as they planned and prepared the whole spread themselves. Shuford manned the grill as he whipped and flipped some killer quesadillas (while doing pretty stellar Tyler Childers renditions). Rose, always the kitchen queen, organized the cook crew and table while Liza stacked sandwich upon sandwich for the rest of the group. Singing and dancing under the cooking tent all together made for our best meal yet. While the food itself was pretty amazing, it was the group’s tangible bond that made the whole evening so special.
Woohoo for scuba day two! After attempting to spend another night sleeping on the beach, the group woke up with wet hair and damp clothes from the overnight showers— which only made it easier to hop in the water for the rest of the day! The students were dropped at the dive shop for their final pool dive. Rowan purchased a pair of scuba flag shorts to affirm himself as a scuba diver. Then the certification group went to the pier to do a shore free dive where everyone learned the techniques to dive under the surface without the help of scuba gear. Liza exclaimed that she never expected to enjoy being under the sea and that it helped her get excited to scuba in the ocean. Meanwhile off of the harbor, the certified group boated out to Turtle Pinnacle to hit the reef! Will, who seems to be our animal whisperer, got to swim alongside a green sea turtle. Shuford and Gloria snapped some awesome go pro footage while the group saw boatloads of eels and even a hiding octopus! We swam through Arch Caves as our second site, where we explored collapsed lava tubes and found some interesting sea life! All done with diving for the day, the students picked up the certified group and headed into Kailua Kona for some local shopping. With a few souvenirs for home in our possession, we made our way back to camp. We grouped up to make spicy Asian noodles for dinner while some of the group played football and showered. Every night, our moon ups got deeper and really allowed the group to bond and get to know each other on another level.
Scuba day 3 which means it’s time for our first group dive! We all piled into the van and headed to Jack’s Diving Locker so everyone could load their regulators, buoyancy control devices, masks, fins, and snorkels. From their we headed to the pier where we met our dive masters Carlos, Sam, and Chase. The certified divers went with Sam and Chase while Carlos took Alan, Rowan, Liza, and Mary Elle to practice their recently learned skills underwater! Rowan and Alan never hesitated to share a warm embrace when they were instructed to share air underwater. Once the air tanks emptied, we headed to shore to rest, catch some rays, and eat some delicious sandwiches before going back in for another dive. On the other end of the shore, Shuford, Hunter, and Piers spotted a spotted eagle ray swimming along the reef. Gloria caught some stellar footage of sea stars and eels. After resurfacing and swimming back to shore, we all piled in the van to take a long and windy drive. We used the afternoon to take the group to a brand new spot: South Point (the southern most spot in the United States). The drive was filled with laughter and singing once Clay took control of the aux— his music had the whole van shaking. Once there, we walking to one of the most beautiful lookouts most of us had ever seen. We had a dance party overlooking the Southern cliff shoreline, where Rose and Logan surprised the crowd with the dirty dancing jump lift. Alan’s enjoyment of the view kept the whole group entertained while Will used the opportunity to bomb some photo shoots. Once back at the campsite, the kids again took control of the kitchen and decided to whip up some breakfast for dinner. Shuford’s mastery of the perfectly toasted hashbrown and Rose’s pancakes were the hits of the night. Clay and Emma, our LODs, decided to hold our moon up on the beach where Logan led the group in some classic ukulele sing-a-longs. We then retreated to the tents for a restful night to ready ourselves for our final day of diving.
Certification day!!! Day 4 of scuba started out with a cereal and oatmeal breakfast on the beach. With the student divers heading out for their first open water ocean dives, the entire got to be on the same boat together! We first dove at Arch Caves, where Clay, Gloria, Rose and Meredith got to see an octopus swimming. We were all playing on the sea floor and having so much fun. Everyone, especially Liza, went through their air fast on that dive because we were all laughing so hard. Rose and Gloria were the last to surface on account of their huge lungs and when they got back on the boat we took a break for lunch. We ate sandwiches and hung out on the deck. For our second dive, we went back to Manta Ray Bay, with high hopes of spotting an elusive tiger shark. Will must have been bringing the shark energy again because almost everyone got to see one swim by during the dive. It was awesome! Piers and Shuford even caught it on video for us to rewatch. We left the harbor very happy knowing it was a successful two dives for everyone. This was even more special for the four who got officially certified! Mary Elle was extremely relieved to have finally passed the scuba course, and Alan, Liza and Rowan mentioned how they were excited to be able to dive anywhere now. With a little time to kill before our Manta Ray snorkel, we went to Turtle beach to snack, nap and watch some turtles. Clay and Rose snapped some pictures of the beach and the sunbathing turtles while many of the girls caught some rays and sleep on the shore. We then picked up some quick pizza and street tacos for dinner before our snorkel. On the boat, everyone got to witness one of the most incredible sunsets of all time. One group saw 3 mantas at one time, of which Piers caught some sick footage. It was very beautiful, and made so much better by the energy created by our group. Now, all the kids can add Manta Rays to their list of awesome sea creatures they saw on the trip.
For our last full day on Big Island, we had to do something special so we took a big trip to explore the island. First, we went north to Hapuna Beach where we had lunch, tossed around a football, and splashed around in the waves together. Then, we began traversing saddle road to the other side of the island. We made a pit stop to play in a lava field (in the middle of a cloud) and have a photo shoot. Rowan made himself comfortable in a lava cave, while Emma, Rose, Liza and Hunter danced in the clouds for some awesome photos. On the rest of the drive, Logan pointed out the peaks of all the volcanoes on the island which was super cool. In Hilo, on the east side of the island, we stopped again at a Goodwill to get silly outfits to wear to our evening event. We pulled up to the other groups campsite, and announced that the surprise event was a Hula/ Ukulele lesson. The lesson was super fun, but even more so because everyone in our group looked so silly. Piers showed out with an out-there outfit, Will wore a whole suit, and Rowan wore a Darth Vader mask. Hunter and Gloria picked up the hula really quickly, while Clay and Will spiced it up with some of their own moves. Afterwards, Liza helped the instructor give Alan, Shuford and Rose a great ukulele lesson. Then, the kids adjourned to the camp site for a big mac and cheese dinner, and dance party of course. In the beginning, when people were reluctant to dance, Emma danced with the leaders and helped bring the energy up. This resulted in lots of swing dancing lessons and everyone successfully learning how to shag. Alan and Rose even figured out how to do a flip. During Moonup, everyone got their own personal nug jug, and we all got to soak in the major love from the group. We had a long drive back to camp, and promptly went to bed.
Today is airport day and it might have been our best one yet. The group was incredibly efficient in packing up the tents and scrubbing gear, so we had time to stop for coffee and tie dye garb on the way to our banquet meal. We took the group to munch on burgers and fish sandwiches for their last meal together. Rowan impressed the group outside with his newly learned cartwheel. With full bellies, we loaded in the van for our final drive together, where we blasted what have come to be our favorite songs over the last two weeks. We held our final goodbyes in parking lot and Logan, Brooke, and Meredith played a farewell tune with the ukulele. The Hawaiian sunset over the airstrip marked a fitting goodbye for our outstanding trip. The past two weeks have been nothing but fantastic adventure and we are so thankful for the opportunity to have shared it with these amazing kiddos! We have loved every second.
Thanks for reading and aloha to you all!
-Brooke, Meredith, and Logan
July 18, 2021
Aloha friends and family! Bright and early start this morning! We started our day with some avocado toast which Shuford told us he had never tried, but fortunately he loved it. Then, it was off to the National Tropical Botanical Gardens for day 2 of our service project! From the moment we pulled in it was pouring rain, which definitely made for a funny time pulling weeds on a hillside. The downpour did not phase the group as they dove right into the rainforest pulling invasive grasses from the forest floor. Prepared as always, Liza brought her rain jacket despite Logan’s assurance that she wouldn’t need it. Needless to say, she made a smart move. Leslie and Branson were the head gardeners, and they instructed the group on how to pull Guinea grass safely and correctly. Guinea Grass grows quickly, but it was no match for Rowan, Shuford, and their shovels. Rose pulled weed after weed all while encouraging others and spurring the group on. Piers ended the afternoon covered head to toe in mud- a testament to his hard work and weed-pulling skills! After getting our hands dirty for the day, Leslie thanked the group with popsicles and waved us goodbye! We headed back to the campsite for a chill afternoon at Anahola. Hunter, Gloria, and Emma caught some rays on the beach while Alan and Shuford led multiple games of hacky sack. Will, Rowan, Clay all tried their best to share an eno together (much to the hammock’s dismay). After some volleyball and bodysurfing, Rose and Piers helped get dinner in motion. Chef Logan and the rest of the cook crew whipped up some big pots of unstuffed peppers, a signature moondance dish. Many were skeptical at first, but it proved to be a huge hit amongst the whole group! With full bellies, we held a marvelous moon up on the beach, where Liza and Brooke sang to a ukulele tune and Will tried his hand at some freestyle. We then hopped in our tents and hammocks for a well-deserved full night’s sleep.
Cowabunga! Our second day of surfing is upon us, and this group is ready to shred! Shuford, Alan, Will, and Rose awoke from their eno’s to a cereal and oatmeal spread, complete with fresh Hawaiian fruit. Once everyone was energized and suited up, we hopped in the van to head to Kahili Beach, or the Rock Quarry, for our day on the waves. Evan and Nate were our guides for day and helped us navigate some pretty tough morning swell! Despite the crashing waves, this group proved to be one of the best that the guides said they had seen all summer! Everyone managed to catch a bunch of waves and had boatloads of fun in the process. Piers’s strong eye helped him catch wave after wave. Will was even able to get up on one of the smallest boards the guides had available— super cool! They absolutely crushed it. Emma and Hunter proved to show some of the day’s best EB (Expedition Behavior) when they helped the leaders retrieve items the ocean attempted to carry out. After a sandwich lunch buffet by the rope swing, we put on our sandy shoes and piled in the van! We spent the afternoon exploring Hanalei Bay. We wandered around the famed beach town, where Liza scored on some beachwear and the boys bought matching Hawaiian shirts. Snow cones and smoothies at the Wishing Well were the reward for everyone’s awesome effort after our surfing section. It was then time to check out the beach! The chill afternoon water made for perfect swimming conditions- Mary Elle, Will, and Shuford raced to see who had the fastest free-style stroke and Rowan executed an Olympics worthy jump in the water with the help of Alan and Piers. The rest of the afternoon was spent sunbathing and playing hackysack. While waiting for Logan to pick the group up in the van, we played a killer game of Big Booty, where Emma triumphed as the winner and Rowan was deemed the group’s most improved player. We concluded the night by cooking fresh ahi and chicken tacos. Yum! The group was crowding around trying to get as many ahi tacos as possible and even Emma, our fish skeptic, said she enjoyed them!
Travel day! On Saturday it was time to wish Kauai goodbye, and say hello to Hawaii, The Big Island. The group got some much-needed extra rest this morning in their hammocks and tents until the roosters finally woke them. Piers helped Logan and Meredith create a scrumptious pancake bar with bananas, fresh blueberries, macadamia nuts, and of course some m&m’s! Then it was time to break down tents, clean gear, and get on the road to Lihue airport. The group was so efficient and quick to pack up camp that they had extra time to kill so we stopped in Kapa’a to walk around. The boys stopped at Paco’s tacos again where Piers impressively gulped down NINE fish tacos! Wow! We finished the drive to the airport, made it through security, and arrived at our gate. The whole time we had plenty of tunes thanks to Will and his new speaker that he uses to pick up on radio channels. The travel day went flawlessly thanks to how helpful and alert the entire group is. Shuford even helped the other Moondance group pack their van without anyone asking. Afterwards, we loaded up our new van, a.k.a. the yacht, and headed to our campsite. We watched our first Big Island sunset on the windy drive— a perfect welcome to our new campsite! We set up our tents and then gathered around the table to cook some chicken and spinach pesto pasta, which to Liza’s own surprise, she absolutely loved! Fully carbo loaded and bellies satisfied, we gathered for Moonup, sang together, and then decided to spend the night sleeping on the beach under the stars.
Woohoo! Our first day of scuba diving is here! This morning is our first time seeing this island in the broad daylight and the views are mesmerizing. The squad is pumped up and ready to dive, with Mary Elle, Rowan, Liza, and Alan being the first to jump in the water as student divers. The rest of the group headed to the harbor and have an exciting day ahead of them!
Mahalo for reading and check in again soon!
-Logan, Brooke, and Meredith
July 15, 2021
Aloha from Kauai!!
We have had a sun soaked and busy first few days on the island! We started the trip off on a great note, with all of our arrivals on time and with all of their luggage, a first for the Hawaiian Islands trip this summer. Will was the first to arrive, and as we picked up Liza, Clay, and Rowan, the games began. We made a makeshift basketball hoop in the baggage claim and played a game of PIG, (where you try to make trick shots, and if you make it, everyone has to attempt the shot). Then we broke out the deck of cards and played a game of BS. Logan a.k.a the human lie detector was able to tell whenever any of us were lying, which made him a tough opponent. Finally, the rest of the students arrived and we made our departure from the airport. We picked up some yummy pizza from Bobby V’s on the way to the campsite, and ate it on the beach once we arrived. A little sleepy and with fully bellies, we had our first Moonup.
Cowabunga, our first full day in Hawaii! There’s no better way to start a beach trip than with a surf lesson. In order to fuel our surfing endeavors, we gobbled up some delicious breakfast burritos. This led to Piers giving us all a lesson on how to perfectly cut an avocado. Then, our LODs, Will and Liza, helped us load into the bus and we headed to the Rock Quarry Beach. Everyone introduced themselves to our awesome guides Nate, Pono and Jack, we had a little land lesson, and hopped on our boards. Our lesson went so well that in the middle of it, Logan looked over and everyone was on a wave. The guides even remarked that their presence was unnecessary, because none of the kids needed any help, they’re all natural born surf pros! After the lesson, we moved to a shady spot overlooking the beach and made our lunches. Mary Elle and Gloria took this opportunity to sunbathe. Back at our campsite, we had some time to chill out and get to know each other a little better. Will, Rose and Brooke made a triple stack with their hammocks, and the rest of the group started a big group game of volleyball. Liza and Emma jammed out with Meredith and Logan on the ukulele and then they all spotted some Spinner dolphins splashing in the waves. For dinner, we cooked up some Hawaiian Fried rice, and Emma earned the title of mini Gordon Ramsay. We had an awesome Moonup, and then everyone hung out on the beach and admired the view of the stars and the milky way. We were all star-struck (pun intended)! We packed our dry bags and went to bed early in hopes of having a good night sleep to prepare for our long day on the kayaks.
The big day was upon us! Everyone rose before the sun, piled into the boat (our van) and immediately fell back to sleep. We drove on as the sun began to rise and arrived at the end of the road at Haena Beach Park as it was getting light. There, we met our guides Adam and Casey, who would lead us through the seas along the NaPali coast. The water was calm as we put our kayaks in and we began our 17 mile journey. Everyone had different strategies to pass the time as we paddled on. Liza and Alan started a karaoke session in their kayak. Logan and Piers learned about the forbidden island with Casey. After 12 miles, the last few of which were against the wind, we finally landed on Miloli’i beach for lunch. This beach is special because it can only be accessed by boat, and we were the only one’s there! Everyone loaded their sandwiches with toppings and chowed down for a well deserved lunch and some delicious fruit juice. After that, most of us laid down to take a nap. When lunch was over, Adam blew the Conch to alert everyone that it was time to go. Clay, Emma, Rowan and Rose all got lucky because Casey let them use his sail, so they got to sail their kayaks for a little while. Shuford and Gloria saw them and attempted to make their own sail using a towel and their paddles. At one point, three kayaks with Will, Piers, Hunter, Logan, Brooke and Meredith joined together to make a Mega-Kayak. Luckily, since we did most of the paddling before lunch, the end of our journey was a breeze. Polihale was in sight and everyone had the finish line clear in their mind. Clay, Shuford, and Will remarked that when they landed on shore, their legs almost gave out because they forgot what land felt like. We took some fresh water showers, changed into dry clothes and loaded back into the boat to head home. On the way, we stoped in Kapa’a for our local food stop at Paco’s Tacos, home of the famous Chipotle Sauce. The kids ate their dinner with ferocity after working up such an appetite. The food coma set in on the drive back to camp and everyone was ready to go to sleep. Our LODs, Alan and Emma, led us in a quick Moonup, where we all agreed that the kayak was one of the toughest things we’d ever done, and promptly fell asleep.
Today, we had our first day of service. We had a delicious breakfast and made our way to the National Tropical Botanical Gardens to help out the gardeners. Today, our project was working with Kila and Howard to pick up dead palm fronds. We spent all of service in a lush jungle with plenty of shade, lucky us! We had a lunch break for sandwiches and fruit. In the afternoon, we got to go see the Allerton beach and have a tour of the gardens where they filmed Jurassic Park! On our way back to camp, we had to stop at Walmart and one of our LODs Clay helped out the leaders. Our other LOD, Mary Elle, napped peacefully in the van. We made another quick stop in Kapa’a to get some souvenirs and gifts. Almost all of the boys bought matching t-shirts, and a bunch of the girls got tie dye shirts from this cool store called Big Blue. Back at camp, we made some delicious personal pizzas. Everyone enjoyed being able to customize their dinner. Rose’s pizza was deemed the most well made, which seems about right considering her previous cooking experience. It started to rain so we decided to Moonup under the tarp, and everyone went to bed happily after we finished. We’re all looking forward to working in a different section of the gardens for service tomorrow.
That’s all for now, mahalo for reading :)!
July 12, 2021
Hello Hawaiian Islands 3B Families!
The group arrived safely in Lihue last night, and they are off on their adventure! We have heard from our leaders that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!