July 26, 2021
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” -Winnie the Pooh
This is our favorite airport quote. I am sitting in the airport with the last of these amazing humans, Jack, Emma, Mac, Clara and Olivia. The last 24 hours has been a waterfall of tears. The intensity of the sadness speaks to the depth of our connection and experience together.
After climbing we spent a day exploring Jackson and the surrounding Teton wilderness. We stopped at the local Recreation Center and hosted a surprise early birthday party for Mac where we played a heated game of 6v6 basketball. We then went swimming, diving, and water sliding. Mayes showed of her sick basketball skills, CG displayed her flipping abilities off the diving board, Clara chilled in the hot tub, and Cutty went full send with a 1 ½ off the diving board.
Mac dressed up in his party hat and princess themed birthday sash and we all sang him happy birthday. We then took a much-needed shower and headed to dinner. Back at camp we used our leftover food for the great Moondance tradition of Iron Chef. Our group broke up into two teams and were assigned the task of creating a meal and skit out of the remaining ingredients.
While Olivia, Clara, Tad, Emma, and Jack put together a delicious cauliflower rice with veggies and the most scrumptious cinnamon apple crisp I have ever tasted, the other team came through with the victory. Cutty, Hampton, Mac, CG, and Mayes whipped up some tasty vegan lettuce wraps with thai peanut sauce and a fried tortilla wrap for dessert. We then reflected with our second to last Moonup led by Cutty and Olivia. We closed out the day with some van vibing and a grand performance of the song Earth. We have been practicing memorizing the lines of this song, each student assigned a different animal. We performed it to the other Moondance groups camping nearby. It was hilariously fun, awkward, and surprisingly good. Finally, we hit the hay before our last day.
We woke up on the final day, ate breakfast, and made our way to rafting. Once again, we got to float down the infamous Snake River, this time on the white-water section. We split up into two rafts, same groups as the cooking competition the night before. This was the perfect final activity as it was action packed and full of laughter and a final game of Big Booty. As we saw a bald eagle fly overhead, we all spontaneously broke out into the national anthem. At this point we were beyond silly to say the least.
Shoutout to Jack, CG, and Cutty for some sick flips off the raft. Another shoutout to Cutty and Hampton for playing a game of trust fall with the paddles and then getting pushed in by their guide. The cold water felt good in the warm western sun. We eventually made it through all the class III rapids and bused back to Jackson where we cleaned out our van and shopped for goofy banquet outfits. The group all found Hawaiian shirts for banquet dinner and he headed to a local burger joint, The Bird.
We enjoyed our last dinner together and made our way back to camp for our final night together. During our van ride we had “sad boy hours” where we played heartwarming goodbye songs and shed a few tears. Upon getting to camp, we packed and did our final Moonup led by Jack and Clara. We shared nuggets of appreciation for our favorite moments of the trip, our take-aways, and ended with Clara’s heartwarming exercise. We formed a circle, closed our eyes, and were asked to go in a circle and tap people when given specific prompts such as, “who is a life-long friend”, “who do you admire”, “who inspires you”…. One person started crying and next thing we know the whole group is in tears.
This was such an indescribable and heartwarming moment that I could not possibly put into words and only the students of this trip will truly understand the depth of the experience. I am sad to see them go but thankful to have had such a meaningful adventure and such life-changing memories. To all the parents reading this, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for gifting us with your precious children. And to all the students, thank you for showing us your soul.
July 23, 2021
We love and miss y’all and are excited to share stories from the rock walls.
On our way out of Yellowstone National Park we stopped for some much-needed showers in Teton National Park as well as a hot local breakfast. After carrying all our food for five days and cooking over backcountry stoves, it’s hard to put into words how much we appreciated a restaurant meal. With clean bodies and full bellies, we headed towards camp.
As we drove, we noticed a spectacular view of Jenny Lake with the jagged Tetons in the background. We pulled over for a spontaneous photoshoot where our LOD’s Olivia and Tad coached us into a human pyramid for the photo of a lifetime. Our pyramid ended in more of a dogpile and our smiles turned into deep belly laughs. After ample photos we hopped back in our trusty van Betty and kept driving.
Back at camp we experienced our first rainstorm of the trip. We hung out in the van and enjoyed one of our favorite activities: storytelling. The rain was much needed by the land around us, but short-lived. Once it turned from thunder showers to sprinkles, we hopped out and played some Blingo Ball AKA Spikeball and some soccer. In soccer Wil, Emma, and Mac took on Jack, Cutty, and Mayes. It was a close and heated game. Cutty showed off his fancy footwork, but it was no match for Emma’s stellar defense. Jack used his linebacker skills to power through the defense, but it was not strong enough to stop Mac’s slide tackles. Mayes displayed great vision as she passed the ball around the field. The game was tied with only seconds before dinner when Wil kicked the ball high into the air to Mac. Mac leaped from the ground like a stallion and headed to ball towards the goal with so much power that even the non-existent referee could not tell if it went in or not. To this day there is an ongoing dispute as to who won the game.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group was helping cook a delicious dinner of fried rice. Clara and CG used their culinary skills to sauté some scrumptious chicken, while Olivia cooked up yummy veggies and Tad perfected the rice. I hope you, the parents, are ready to be cooked for with your children’s newfound cooking skills. The fried rice was amazing, perhaps the most fun meal yet. Shoutout to Cutty and Hampton for an entertaining and performative cooking show.
After dinner we closed the day with deep Moonup sharing our deepest fears.
The next morning, we got up early and met our infamous Exum climbing guides at Teton village. We geared up with helmet, boots, and harnesses and then rode up the gondola to get to a spectacular climbing wall with an even better view. The LOD’s Jack and CG broke us up into two groups and we cycled through groups of multipitch climbing and rappelling. While some of us were a little shaky at first being at such great heights, the group blew the guides away with their willingness to step outside of our comfort zones.
We learned the figure eight follow through knot, how to use an ATC to self-belay, and many other new climbing skills that we would need for the next day of level two rock climbing. After testing our limits at the rock wall we headed back down the gondola and stopped in Jackson on our way back. ***SIDE NOTE! WE JUST SAW A MOMMA AND BABY MOOSE AS I’M WRITING THIS!!!*** In Jackson we got yummy treats at a bakery, went to some cool local shops where much of the group bought T-shirts and hats. After our Jackson shopping spree we made our way to a park and had a cookout. The students took turns grilling burgers and Olivia cut us pieces from a giant watermelon. Jack cooked us the most incredible elotes, a Mexican corn dish with cream and cheese.
Upon getting back to camp CG and Jack led us in a quick and funny Moonup and we hit the hay. The next morning, we prepped ourselves for another day of climbing. This time we ferried across the breathtakingly beautiful Jenny Lake and hiked up to Hidden Falls where we broke up into smaller groups and climbed up the side of a waterfall.
Emma, Olivia, and Mayes broke off into one group and did some chill but fun top roping climbs and repels near the top of the cliffside. Wil, Jack, and Mac were in a group and started with some top rope climbs before doing the challenging open-book climb which pushed their limits. Clara, Tad, and CG’s group jumped right into the steepest and one of the scariest multipitch climbs. Finally, Molly, Cutty, and Hampton crushed the hardest routes they could find eager to find their physical and mental limits and push them to the extreme.
With blistered palms and tired muscles we made our way back to camp and indulged in some delicious tortellini, a special meal picked out by Clara, CG, and Emma. We ended the challenging day with a reflective Moonup led by Hampton and Clara. We went to bed early as this morning we got up before sunrise to get an early start on fishing. We are headed to meet our guides for a fly-fishing float trip down the infamous Snake River.
Wish us luck! Early bird gets the worm! Wish we could share more but we’ve gotta go! See you all very soon! Hard to believe this trip is almost over!
July 20, 2021
We write to you from one of the wildest places in the world- Yellowstone National Park. A lot has happened since we last checked in. We’ve hiked 25+ miles with all of our belongings on our back and bonded more than anyone could have ever guessed. Safe to say we are having a great time!
A recap of the last 6 days as told by the group:
(Molly) When we last checked in we were leaving our campsite in Jackson behind and approaching the Grand Teton National park as we neared our trailhead in Yellowstone. The night before, we made a tight plan. Many of us didn’t believe we could get everything done in time to reach our arrival time goal- 6:30 pm at our campsite. I am happy to report this group sure enough pulled it together and beat our goal, but we will get to that later. We managed to make one final stop at a gas station to enjoy ice cold drinks and a snack before we hit the wilderness. Once at the trailhead it was go time. Luckily our “leaders of the day” aka LOD’s Mayes and Cutty were extremely helpful with each task at hand. We taught the group how to pack their packs and ate some lunch before the hiking began. Finally- time to hit the trail.
(Olivia)Once we started it definitely was tough getting used to our packs and we were kind of silent at the start of the hike. We hadn’t been together that long, but we still felt so close already; eventually the silence was broken by some very entertaining stories told by Hampton and group singing. Once we made it to the fork it was smooth sailing and we were shocked how quickly those 9 miles went by. We made it to the campsite and everyone instantaneously sat down after our first big day. After setting up camp, the LOD’s made a scrumptious dinner of spaghetti.
(Chandler Grace) That night, we had just cleaned up from dinner, when dark ominous clouds emerged from out behind the mountains. We hurried back to our tents and jumped inside. The wind howled and it started to sprinkle but after only 15 minutes of liquid sunshine, the weather cleared and we were able to do our Moonup rituals. The newly elected LODs were Chandler Grace and Tad for the next day. The next morning, we awoke ready to hike our next four miles to the next camp site. After a scrumptious breakfast of oatmeal, the crew set out on their next adventure.
(Jack) On that same first morning Will, Tad and I woke up early to “wage war on the trout” before everyone else woke up. We waded up river and used our new found skills from the the fly fishing school that we attended on our first day. We casted and casted waiting for a fish to bite, but much to our dismay the fish didn’t seem to be hungry that morning. Although we did not catch any fish that morning we still appreciated the beautiful snake river on an early Yellowstone morning.
(Emma) That day we set out for those 4 miles, it was definitely one of the hardest days of hiking just because that hike contained a lot of uphill parts that were pretty tough. Halfway through the hike we stopped in the woods and sat down on some logs and had pita pizzas with pepperoni and some parmesan cheese. It was a very good meal and felt good to have our packs off for a little bit while we ate. After we had lunch we started back on the trail and had a little more than halfway to our next campsite. Once we got to our campsite we all took our packs off and everyone hit the river to swim and cool off from the hike and it felt amazing. We took a ton of pictures, skipped rocks, and played our favorite game- mafia!
(Jack) During our swim we saw an osprey flying over our heads with a small fish in its talons when all of a sudden a bald eagle swooped in and started chasing the osprey. Filled with patriotism we spontaneously started singing the National anthem. It was such a beautiful moment and writing about it brings a tear to my eye.
(Clara) After swimming we all set up our tents for the night and made some Mexican rice bowls for dinner. We played games for hours before we went to bed. We all slept well, knowing that we had another long hike the next day. When we woke up we quickly packed up, ate breakfast and hit the trail for our next campsite.
(Mayes) Mac and Emma, the LODs for the day, set the pace for the hike that day. With lots of entertaining stories from Hampton and Cutty, the hike went by very fast. Approaching the campsite, we saw a lake that we assumed would be great for swimming.
(Hampton) What up world it’s your boy Hampton, back at it again with another update. Hampton finally made it to the camp site and so did all the other members of the squad. We decided to go swimming in the lake Mayes mentioned and now we all kinda smell bad but it was a great bonding experience. The night slowly approached after jamming to our favorite artist Olivia Rodrigo and it was quite a night to say the least. Anyway love you all ️️.
(Tad) We celebrated my birthday this night and had an amazing dinner of jambalaya AKA jubilee (inside joke). After, we sat around the grounds talking about car names. On the other side of the grounds Molly and Wil were making a surprise cookie dough cookie cake. The group sang me Happy Birthday as the cake was brought out with candles. We then dug in and enjoyed thoroughly!
(Cutty) I am Cutty. Last night was a great night. We had a very hype party including a concert preformed by many campers. We proceeded to have a great night sleep and woke up to a fabulous rest day. I am having a blast.
(Mac) On Sunday morning Hampton and Clara made some pretty good m&m pancakes and it was so far my favorite breakfast on Moondance. After that we played a fun game called signals which is a fun game where one player is in the middle and everyone else has pass a signal to everyone around the circle and make sure the person in the middle doesn’t tag you. I am having a great time.
(Wil) While we’ve only been together for a mere week it feels like we are all life-long friends. Through our fun and challenging excursion through the backcountry we have become a big wilderness family. The number of stories, inside jokes, group songs, and fits of belly-laughter is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I am cherishing each and every moment with this group, and would like to express my gratitude to all the parents for trusting us with your wonderful children.
Our last day was no simple task, we had 10 miles to hike to get us to the van, aka “Betty”. This group brought their A game and we were back before no time. The last section we hiked through was absolutely stunning. We made our way through a grassy valley surrounded by pine forest and jagged peaks. We couldn’t ask for a better a view. Once at the van we celebrated by indulging in lots of snacks! It felt SO accomplishing to finish backpacking. While we were a little sad to be done we had the excitement of ice cream to look forward to! We headed to the Yellowstone lake ice cream shop where our favorite trail topic finally became a realty. As we pulled up we saw bison and elk. Next we decided to set up camp, make a feast and catch old faithful at sunset. We had Moonup in front of the famous geyser and saw it erupt. It was such a fun night, one we won’t forget. Now we’re off to shower and prep for our next activity!
We will check in again after our next adventure of rock climbing in the Tetons.
The Yellowstone 3A family
Clara: Dad, I have no idea what day you’ll see this but Happy Birthday! I miss you and I hope you’re having a good time sailing.
CG: Please send to lily or her mom: Happy bday lil bil! Miss u so much and I’ll see you as soon as I get back! CG
July 17, 2021
Hello friends and family checking in on this Yellowstone group! Apologies for the delayed posting – this group lost service before we could get a more detailed update the other day, but we wanted to post this anyhow and let everyone know All is Well in the backcountry! You’ll see a much more detailed posting after the group finishes backpacking!
Greetings from Wyoming!
We are alive and well on our way through Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park where we will embark on a five-day backpacking excursion. Yesterday was spent at Jackson Hole Fly Fishing School where we learned everything fly fishing from entomology to casting. Our group is forming at it is hard to believe we’ve known each other for less than 48 hours.
We are giving everyone a chance to give a personal shoutout to friends and family:
Mayes – Hey Mom, Dad, Stanley, and Winston! Miss y’all so much! This place is amazing! See you in two weeks. Love you Mama Fish and Top Doc!!! <3 <3 Tell Edward to get me a Mcallie sweatshirt
Clara – Hi mom hi dad I miss y’all. I haven’t showered in three days and won’t get to for five more so that’s fun. Tell Charlie I said hi. Love y’all!
Cutty- Hi Mom and Dad. I forgot underwear. Love you guys and I am having a great time. Miss y’all. I’m kidding btw.
Jack – Hi mom! Miss you like crazy! I’m having a great time and I’m so excited to start hiking. Please don’t give any more ducks away while I’m gone. Love you!
Emma – Hey guys! I hope you guys are having fun in Yellowstone! This place is absolutely beautiful and can’t wait to see you all! Mainly Blowing Rock 🙂
CG- Hi mom dad and Wright, hope y’all had fun in Yellowstone yesterday! We’re having a blast and the views are gorgeous everywhere. I’m getting plenty of sleep so don’t worry. Love y’all!
Olivia- Hi mom, dad, and Ellison!! I am having such a fun time and this place is amazing! I love my group and we are having the best time together! Miss you guys so much!
Hampton- What up Mom and Dad! This place is so cool and I’m loving every moment. We are on our way to our backpacking trip. Enjoy Montana with the squad!
Tad: Hi Mom and Dad! Hope you guys are doing great, I am having a lot of fun out here. The fly fishing was a lot of fun sadly got skunked. We are heading to Yellowstone to go backpacking for 5 days. We will see if there are any good sights.
Mac: Hi mom and dad. Miss you guys, and its pretty good so far. I’m meeting some new cool people and dad do not forget to pick me up on the last day because I know how forgetful you are. so yeah all good so far.
July 13, 2021
Hello Yellowstone Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Jackson today, and 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!
– Moondance HQ