June 25, 2021
Greetings from the Kahului airport!
After hanging onto the last few hours, we all shared together in this Hawaiian paradise, we have officially said goodbye to our team, sending everyone off in their different directions. We are all experiencing a wild wave of emotions as we are longing for more time together while still feeling extremely grateful for the lifelong friendships that have just been made.
Since our last update, we have experienced all sorts of adventure. We finished our service section with one last day of working on Pono Grown Farm—which consisted of prepping plant beds and helping plant new vegetables. Louisa and Hunter were stars in the field, and brought loads of energy to the whole group. After two long days of farming, the kids will return home to you as master farmers, and maybe with a little bit of a farmers tan. Our service portion ended with a much deserved slip-n-slide at the farm, which Holt took full advantage of, going up and down the slide approximately 35 times.
After our service section, we headed to the grocery store to gear up for our biggest challenge of the trip: the Iron Chef cooking competition. We split the group into two teams, and they both planned their own menu for the night and prepared it for the judges (the leaders). Hudson was the grill master of his team, smoking up some delicious ribs. Mary Frances made her famous broccoli to pair with that, and Louise completed the meal with some homemade fried pickles. Palmer and Austin led their team in making steak fried rice, and used Austin’s special fried Oreo recipe to finish the meal. In the end, the rib team won, but it was all in good fun. The competition was set up as a reward for the kids, but after eating those delicious meals, I think we (the leaders) were the ones who got the true reward!
On our last full day here, we started the morning with another round of surfing. This surfing session was even better than the last, as the waves were bigger, and the kids were no longer rookies in the water. Hugh and Eli were pros by the end, catching wave after wave out in the ocean. We then headed into town for some local shopping and food trucks. The kids collected plenty of fun souvenirs to bring home. After surfing and shopping we headed to the summit of Haleakala to watch the sunset and have our final banquet. We were all amazed by the feelings of being on top of the world, and we have never seen Ford so content. The views were incredible – and these views were made even better by the thrifted banquet outfits we were all rocking. With a mix of Hawaiian shirts, silk robs, and leopard print, we were definitely a sight to see for the others around us. Frances loved her outfit so much that she refused to take it off – and could possibly be boarding the airplane in it as we type this.
To the families of all of our kids: Mahalo for sharing your bundles of joy with us. We truly loved every moment spent with them, and will forever cherish the bonds that we have all made. While the trip flew by in the blink of an eye, we will carry these friendships with us forever. We love you all, Maui 4A! We will close out with what has become the punchline of our trip: Maui 4A or bust!
Signing off one last time,
Mary Clarke, Maggie, and Owen
June 22, 2021
It’s hard for us to grasp that our trip is quickly coming to its end! It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun in paradise. The past few days have been filled with thrilling adventures, learning more about the history of Hawaii, and exploring Maui’s diverse and unique ecosystems. We started this part of our trip by driving the first half of the famous ‘Road to Hana’ en route to our rappelling site. We spent the day deep in the Hawaiian rainforest rappelling down various cliffs and waterfalls. Our LOD’s Hugh and Mary Frances were a huge motivating force for many of the kids who had never experienced the thrill of lowering themselves down a cliffside. After a splash entry at the bottom of our second rappel, Hudson and Eli were able to show off their rock-climbing skills as they made their way to a jumping rock! At the end of this adventure filled day, we returned to camp for a tasty pad Thai dinner. We even got all of the kids to enjoy broccoli (thank you, Mary Frances)! While cook crew was hard at work, the rest of our group joined the other Maui group at our campsite for a fierce spikeball tournament. Per usual, Ford and Hudson dominated the field of play!
The next day we woke up early to allow time for our pancake bar which included: m&m’s, blueberries, bananas, and chocolate chips! Austin and Palmer nailed their pancake flipping techniques and were able to make Mickey Mouse shapes by the end of the meal. After our filling breakfast, we set out to the North Shore of Maui to watch the surfers at the famous Ho’okipa Beach. The most spectacular sight of them all was watching a girl and her dog catch a wave on the same board! Next, we headed up to the village of Makawao for our ziplining tour. Holt, Louisa, and Hunter showcased their courage (and big smiles) as they conquered the first line. From the top of the ziplining mountain, we were able to see all of Maui—from Haleakalā, out to Molikini Crater, and to the top of the West Mauis! The kids absolutely loved the last part of the activity—which was a half mile zip high above the tree line! The views were nothing short of amazing.
Today we started our community service section at Pono Grown Farm. The founder and owner of the farm, Evan, welcomed our group with open arms and gave us a presentation outlining the importance of environmental stewardship and the preservation of native Hawaiian culture. After the presentation, we were invited to gear up and enter the beehives at the farm! Mary Frances was ecstatic to be able to put on a bee keeping suit—making sure we all knew that this was a dream of hers since 6th grade. We all learned a lot more about beekeeping—and even got a chance to process the honey ourselves! Later in the day, we helped in the plant beds by picking out the weeds and tilling the soil. We cannot wait to return to Pono Grown tomorrow for a full day of preparing the beds and getting to try our hand at planting a few different crops. Tonight, we decided to make a Moondance favorite for dinner: personal pizzas! We even added pineapple to make the dish truly Hawaiian. While Holt was busy as our head chef, Louise and Frances were plotting to prank their leader Owen with a nice spoonful of sardines hidden under the cheese in his pizza. While the prank was executed perfectly, Owen was onto them after 1 bite, spitting it back out onto his plate!
We have absolutely loved having all of the kids here with us for 10 days now! It truly is hard to believe that we are entering the home stretch of our trip. This group truly has become best friends—forming bonds that won’t be broken even when they all return home to their respective lives. We are so excited for our last few days and are looking forward to cherishing every minute we have left in this beautiful place together.
Mary Clarke, Maggie, and Owen
June 19, 2021
Since last checking in, we’ve had four days full of incredible adventure! This section started with an early morning snorkeling tour of Molikini Crater (so unbelievably beautiful), followed by three days of surfing, windsurfing, and stand up paddle boarding! We have been incredibly fortunate to enjoy great weather, fair winds, and fantastic guides!
On our snorkeling day, we were boated around in big red Zodiac boats to tons of different snorkel sites around Molokini. You could’ve mistaken Austin and Mary Clarke for dolphins the way they explored the waters around the Molokini Crater! And, while boating from spot to spot, we all had a great laugh watching Holt and Hugh bounce around on the Zodiac boats as they insisted on sitting on the sides no matter how fast and bumpy it was!
During our surfing lessons, Louise, Hudson, and Mary Frances dominated the surf and looked like pros by the end of our first session! And even though she was hesitant at first, Hunter stayed persistent on her board and successfully caught some big waves into shore! We were even lucky enough to be surfing in the presence of some little green friends—the Hawaiian green sea turtles. Sea turtle sightings are starting to become as frequent as seeing a squirrel in the states—it’s amazing. After surfing and a visit to see the Nakaleke blowhole, we headed back to the campsite and had a chill afternoon making friendship bracelets with each other—all thanks to Louisa who shared her supplies and facilitated the whole thing! Don’t be surprised if your kids come home with some fresh new wrist/ankle bling!
Windsurfing was a new experience for all of us (well, except for Maggie who was already a seasoned veteran)! Eli showed incredible courage by jumping on the board first and taking off with little instruction as he sailed nearly out of the cove. But don’t worry—he plowed back to shore with speed and an eagerness to get out in the water again! At the end of the morning, one of our guides turned to Palmer and said “you’re like unbelievably natural at this. You should really consider doing it as a sport.” Who knows, maybe we just discovered the world’s next great windsurfer!
Today we started the morning with some standup paddle boarding, and, again, found ourselves in the middle of a sea turtle party! On our way back in from the water, we surfed some waves in on our paddle boards which was awesome!
After our morning of paddle boarding, we convinced the kids that we were embarking on a long, painful 12-mile hike. And, although they took on this plan with positive attitudes and (possibly fake) excitement, we instead surprised them with an Olympic Games that we had set up with the other Maui sessions! Our team represented USA and we absolutely dominated—we were crowned the overall champions in the end! Ford killed it in the capture the flag game, bringing home the final flag safely to our side of the field. Frances kept the energy high in our kickball games, both of which ended in scores of, let’s just say, a lot to a little. Overall, the kids loved Olympics and seeing all the other groups! To celebrate the victory, we headed over to Lahaina and ate at the famous Paia Fish Market, which exceeded our already high expectations.
Our group is so dynamic—and we are amazed by how quickly they have come together as a family. It’s hard to believe we met just 7 days ago!
We have posted some Father’s Day shoutouts below.
Until next update!
Maggie, Owen, and Mary Clarke
Hugh- What’s up dad? Hope you are doing great! Happy Father’s Day, you’re the best! Thank you for everything you have done for me
Ford- Happy Father’s Day Dad! You are the best, thanks for all the rides to practices and endless advice. Play some golf with the fam for your day. Hope Molly and Sunny get some steak tonight.
Austin- happy Father’s Day dad! I hope you have a great day, you deserve it. Tell mom, Kate, and Grant I miss them! Love y’all
Louisa – Happy Father’s Day Daddy! Thank you for being the most awesome dad. I miss you so much! I hope Charlie’s being a good dog. Love y’all!
Hunter – happy Father’s Day father! You are truly the best and I am so happy to be the only one to call you dad! Hope you are having a great day and I miss you, mom, rudy, and halo! Love you!!
Holt- hey mom and dad and Coleman. I’m having a great time and I love my group and love it here! Happy Father’s Day dad. Love and miss y’all!
Frances- hey mom and dad! I’m having so much fun! Happy Father’s Day and birthday dad! Love y’all and miss y’all so much!!
Louise- Hey mom and dad! I’m having so much fun here. Happy Father’s Day Michelle!! Hope you aren’t having too much fun without me. Love and miss you both+Marge!
Mary Frances- Happy Father’s Day Goosedawg! I love you so much, thank you for everything you do. I’m having so much fun out here in Maui, my group couldn’t be better. Thinking about y’all everyday, don’t miss me too much. Love y’all!
Hudson- Dear Dad happy Father’s Day I hope that you are having a great weekend with mom. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me throughout my life. I am having so much fun in Maui and I have made some great friends. I have you have a great Father’s Day and I will be thinking about you. Love you
Palmer- Happy Fathers Day Hergs :). I really wish I could be with you today, but I’m sure you’re having the time of your life with Biggies and mom. You’ve been such an incredible role model throughout all of our lives, and I am so grateful for everything you’ve done for all of us. Thank you for pushing us to be the best versions of ourselves each and everyday. I love you so much dad! 123, Snap
Eli- Happy Father’s Day dad I miss you very much and can’t wait to go wake surfing when I get home. Thank you for always pushing me and being the most hardworking dad in the world. Hope you have the best day today, love you!
June 15, 2021
We are off and running on the beautiful island of Maui! Airport day ran SO smoothly for us—THANK YOU so much for your effort, patience, and thoroughness in following the Hawaiian Covid-19 SafeTravels protocols. We were ecstatic to get all 12 of our kids with no issues whatsoever! It was a long day of waiting and anticipation for us and the kids, especially Holt, Louise, and Frances who were absolute troopers with us at the airport all day! By the end of the day, we got everyone to our beautiful campsite with stunning views of the ocean right from our tents.
Most weren’t able to see our camp and home for the next 12 days, in its full form (the light) until the next morning. A combination of jet lag, the 5:45 am sunrise, and some lovely chicken clucking led to an early wakeup call for our first morning. Maggie and Mary Clarke introduced the kids to our cooking and cleaning process with an awesome spread that consisted of bacon, egg, and cheese on an English muffin. We were fueled up and ready to take on our first activity of the trip!
Our first activity was sea kayaking, and bright and early on our drive to meet our guide, Palmer and Owen got the group pumped up by jamming to some Taylor Swift classics. We then met up with our guide Griff, a legendary former Moondance leader turned local Hawaiian and Aloha Kayaks outfitter who gave us an incredible introduction to the island, Hawaiian culture, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean. We were so impressed by everyone’s attitude, willingness to learn, and ability to battle the native trade winds. Their effort paid off as we reached a beautiful spot just off the coast, explored an amazing coral reef, and got up close to a few sea turtles and some other various species of fish! Holt and Frances, the first LODs (leaders of the day), were killing it in the water in their matching LOD shades.
After a morning of kayaking with Griff, we headed to a local beach for some much-deserved chill time and sunshine. However, this “chill time” didn’t last long, as the students quickly found themselves in an intense boys versus girls ocean game of keep away. Ford dominated the boys’ team, with Louise as the powerhouse for the girls. After the game of keep away, Eli and Hugh led the crew in a challenging game of spike-ball, and figured out how to master it even with the Tradewinds coming in. In the car ride back, Hudson, aka “Lil Huddy”, blessed the van audience with a full performance of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Back at camp, we had our first home-cooked meal, consisting of a full spread of Mexican deliciousness. Mary Frances led the cook crew with her vegetable cutting skills – no bell pepper went unharmed.
Today, we were scheduled to do our first day of service for the trip at the Maui Ocean Center, but our guide was caught in an emergency sea turtle surgery—so we had to adjust our plan quickly! We were able to practice one of many words and lessons Griff had taught us the day before—palupalu—which means to be flexible! We headed towards the beach town of Pa’ia and hiked down the beach and found a quiet spot in Sugar Cove to relax and have some time to ourselves! Per usual, Louisa and Hunter were the first ones in the water and the last ones out – we are starting to think they might have a little mermaid in them. We spent the afternoon at another beach park close by, exploring the town, and introducing the kids to two Hawaiian specialty dishes: Acai bowls and shaved ice! Austin was rocking the purple tongue (with confidence) for at least a few hours after that sweet treat. We closed out the spontaneous day with a great dinner and an unbelievable sunset at our campsite.
We absolutely love this group of kids and are so excited to see our journey unfold over the next two weeks. Mahalo (thank you) for trusting us and sharing them with us—we are SO grateful!
Owen, Mary Clarke, and Maggie
June 13, 2021
Hello Maui 4A Families!
We are thrilled to report in that the whole group arrived safely in Maui last night. They enjoyed a night of well-deserved rest together at their campsite and are going to hit the ground running this morning! We have heard from our Leaders, Owen Roberts, Mary Clarke Wallace, and Maggie Masterson, this morning 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 post 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 follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!