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Yosemite 1 • June 9-June 29, 2021

The Final Farewell

June 29, 2021

What a three weeks it has been doing incredible activities, seeing amazing places and being with even more incredibly amazing people. Myself (Elijah) and Anna both feel so lucky to have spent the past three weeks exploring the wonders of Northern California with a truly amazing group of kids. Throughout the trip we have all shared a lot of laughs, powerful moments, and done some incredible things. 


Since rafting, we got to return to the coast and enjoy some well-deserved ocean time. After rafting we traveled to the beautiful point Reyes National Sea shore. The next day we spent our time exploring the beautiful coastline and seeing the Pacific Ocean. We all enjoyed a great lunch on the beach together and the whole group had a big photo shoot. After exploring, we headed south to return to our first campsite as a group at half moon bay. It felt incredibly special to return to where if all started. The afternoon was spent playing a lot of games and enjoying a delicious dinner. 


The next day was an eventful one for sure. We spent the morning hanging around camp, playing more games, and getting ready for a day of epic surfing. We went surfing at Pacifica beach once again and it was amazing to say the least. The whole group was getting up on waves and absolutely crushing it. Maria, as we all expected, was looking like a pro and was getting up on big waves left and right. Tanner kept us all laughing as usual as well as showed some impressive skills on the board. Wills and Gavin looked like naturals out there all day. Sarah Grace showed a lot of determination to learn, and it paid off. In no time she was getting up on every wave she went for. Maggie, Sophie, Sumner, and Kate all enjoyed the pleasure of watching me have an epic nosedive wipe out. I came out of the water to hear big laughs that I immediately joined in on. Burke and Edward couldn’t be kept out of the water as they went for wave after wave. Helen showed off her bright spirit as usual and kept high energy in the water all day. It was awesome to see how much better everyone had gotten even though they hadn’t surfed in nearly three weeks. Surfing was filled with big waves, tons of laughs and a lot of joy to be surfing again all together. 


It was banquet night and banquet night means a goodwill stop for fun outfits. The group had a blast finding the goofiest items they could find. Each and everyone had a crazy outfit on that made everyone laugh. We went to a delicious local restaurant still fully dressed in our wacky attire. I don’t think we stopped laughing throughout the whole meal. After good food and big laughs, we returned to half moon bay. We stayed up late talking and reminiscing about all the wonderful times we shared together. For all of us it was an experience we will never forget and our forever grateful for it. 

Today was airport day and we had to say goodbye to our amazing group. With teary eyed hugs we all said goodbye one by one as everyone heads back home. We feel so lucky to have gotten to spend this time with each of these amazing kids. Thank you to all their parents that made this trip happen for them. We miss you all already and can’t wait to hear from you soon.


With love,

Elijah and Anna 

Big Water on the American!

June 28, 2021

It’s been a very fun and exciting past couple days for our group. After mountaineering the group headed out for the American River for our rafting section. It was a day filled with a lot of laughs, singing, and eating some delicious food including a small local fruit stand on our way. We got to our camp for the night and played a lot of spike all, read some good books and spent the night under a clear night of stars.

The next morning we headed out meet our guides for rafting. Our route on the river started right away with some fun rapids and as soon as the water calmed Wills was the first to take a dip in the clear water. The day was filled with splashing through big and fun rapids that everyone loved. Maggie, Kate, Sumner , Maria, Gavin, and Sarah Grace all took front seats in their rafts to get the extra fun of bigger sprays. The group got to stop at a very cool cliff jumping spot as well which was as expected an absolute blast. Our guides lead us on a beautiful waterfall hike as well that everyone was a big fan of.

In calmer waters our guides let some of the kids take the reigns of the raft. Helen immediately jumped on this opportunity and absolutely crushed guiding the boat. The kids also got to try out some inflatable kayaks. Tanner and Sophie did a great job at learning to use one and cruising in no time. Camp that afternoon was spent playing some beach spike ball, skipping rocks and making s’mores. The next day we were back on the river ready for more rapids and beautiful sights. Edward started the day with myself (Elijah) in the inflatable kayak and quickly became great at steering the kayak on his own. Burke took his chance in the kayak as well and totally crushed it with two friends in the boat along side him. The day was filled with lots of swimming, big splashes, and too much fun. It’s safe to say everyone loved rafting. Our guides raved about what a great group we had and Anna and I couldn’t agree more.

Mt. Shasta = Summitted

June 24, 2021

It’s been a very exciting past 5 days for the whole group!!

We left Yosemite and headed out for our summit attempt up Mt Shasta.  On our way north we decided to stop in beautiful Lake Tahoe for lunch and exploring. Gavin, Sarah Grace, Wills, Edward and myself (Elijah) made sure to take a swim the beautiful lake before getting back on the road. From there it was a very scenic drive through Northern California full of laughs, naps, and singing lots of songs through the whole drive.

Our next day was spent preparing for mountaineering and getting to explore the small town of Shasta. We picked up climbing gear from a cool local guide shop. We even stopped in a crystal shop for protection from the aliens that the locals believe live in the mountain. We had no alien sightings, so it seemed our protection crystals worked. The group returned to our lake side camp and packed up for the next three days.

In the morning we met our super awesome guides and headed out to Mt Shasta. We climbed up the east side of the mountain for our camp. We camped just above the trees and under a stunning view of Mt Shasta. We could see the summit for our camp and were full of excitement. Helen and Burke showed a lot of excitement for our big climb and filled the whole camp with great energy.

The next day we got our alpine start going at about 3 in the morning. It was early but the moon was so beautiful no one even seemed to notice. We spilt into two groups for our summit attempt. Every single person did amazing and showed a lot of toughness and heart. We got every single person to the summit!! The guides were very impressed with not only that but also everyone’s speed and determination.

Maria showed great leadership really checking in with everyone in her group. Kate showed amazing toughness and pushed through all obstacles and summited with the first group. Sumner, Sophie, and Maggie all showed great friendship, motivation, and determination as they pushed each other to reach the summit. Tanner kept energies high as always as he summited the whole group was filled with joy at seeing their friend achieve his goal. Our group all returned to camp with heads held high and proud of their grand accomplishment.

On our last day mountaineering we hiked back to our trailhead. The whole group was filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride. We celebrated the achievement with a great lunch and some fun in the sun swimming at Lake Siskiyou.

Anna and I are both so proud of the entire group and all they accomplished. They truly exceeded our highest expectations and we were so happy to see all of their smiling faces on top of their first 14,000 foot peak!

– Anna + Elijah and the Mt. Shasta conquerors!!

Backpacking was a HUGE Success!

June 19, 2021

We are out of the backcountry! We just completed our 6 days of adventure in Yosemite and we are so delighted. Our first day started with a challenging climb up to Chilnualna Falls. It was a doozy and our first time backpackers did amazing with overcoming and persevering through the challenge. Burke and Sarah Grace were the perfect leaders of the day for this day with their skills built from previous experiences and positive attitudes. Our first campsite was near the falls on a large rocky area where we enjoyed the views of mountains and looking down at Winona. We started on our gallon sized bags of GORP and enjoyed sweet potato black bean burritos for dinner – yum! The falls made for nature’s perfect noise machine.

Day 2 Gavin and Kate were our leaders of the day for a very unexpected day of hiking! We could have never guessed that due to endless down trees our trail would be hard to track. This lead us into a day of using the map and compass in order to navigate and lessons galore to accompany their use. We now have some expert map users on our hands! Sumner was fully invested in our map lessons and Helen took lead on carrying the compass. Along the way we stopped for pesto pita pizzas for lunch and some of the group spotted a small black bear in the far distance! Right after lunch, Maggie had the slowest motion fall that Maggie, Elijah, Maria, and Kate died laughing over. Later on we stopped for a break and played ancient numbers which continues to stump Burke and Maria. Although Tanner figured it out instantly and had a ball as Elijah continued to write “numbers” in the dirt and the group remained stumped. A little further of a climb lead us to the top of a ridge and after analyzing the map we could see the trail was just down below us. We met up with a creek first which let us know we were on the right track and we just about kissed the dirt when we met up with the trail. Just about 2 miles down the trail we found Crescent Lake and hugs went around as we felt relieved to find our destination. We cooked a quick dinner of Mac ‘n’ cheese paired with baked beans, had a quick Moon up and retreated to our tents for a much needed sleep only after the group cleaned out a large jar of Nutella.

The morning of day three Sumner and Maria cooked us a delicious tortillas filled with almond butter and fresh apple slices to be dipped in maple syrup. Maria took charge as she lead our group in cleaning up camp and hitting the trail. However that was after a lengthy show of Tuesday’s with Tanner with Wills as co-host. We laughed so hard and just after we were glad to leave the mosquitos and what we found out that morning to be an apparently haunted lake! Shortly down the trail we found our first patch of snow and Elijah immediately started a snow ball fight which he was quickly out numbered in. Maggie, in typical fashion fell on the snow and laughed before anyone had the chance to. As we came up to Johnson Lake, Helen, Wills, Maria, Edward, Burke, and Gavin did not hesitate to jump in and swim to the middle. Sophie, Maggie, and Sarah Grace we close behind. From there they let out a yawp and we all listed to it echo off the mountain sides. Back on our way we came across a second lake which Helen, Burke, and Elijah jumped in and we ate PB & J tortillas for lunch as we bathed in the sun and listened to Tanner’s seemingly endless stories that entertain to no end. Just two and a half miles left and about a mile in we stopped for a break and saw another group pass us. We were happy to learn we only had 1.5 miles left and Sophie reminded us that it would be the last 1.5 miles we would hike for the next two days. The view from Buena Vista Pass was breathe taking and we were so happy to see such a beautiful lake we would be camping at. The group was endlessly thankful for the coconut curry that Anna made for dinner. During Moonup the group explained how they really felt like they have bonded more meaningfully. As leaders, we were happy to see the start of a transition into more meaningful connection that have the potential to impact these kids forever.

Day 4 was our rest day! And the group deserved it! Maria reminded us first thing about Father’s day and we later shared our favorite things about our Dads/male role models in our lives. The first part of the trip was filled with uphill challenges and having a day to chat and dive deeper with one another was much needed. After hilariously and unfortunately breaking two eno hammocks, the group had fun swimming in the lake, solving riddles, and chatting all day long.

Day 5 we accomplished 9 miles of hiking in a speedy fashion. Once at the campsite we jumped in a pool below a waterfall and slide down wet rocks into pools of water. Ramen bombs were a surprising delight for dinner. That night we lay awake as the wind blew through our camp. Thankfully it only lasted a few hours and Elijah and I made sure the tents were secure. The next morning was hot! and a large group headed to swim in the creek first thing. Once they were back a serious team meeting was spun into a dance party and us leaders totally pranked the kids! 5 miles hiking back down to the van was broken up by a spontaneous swimming session below yet another waterfall. We bathed in the sun to dry off. We rejoiced as we returned to the van and jaws dropped as we entered Yosemite Valley. We are now camping below Half Dome and excited to start our adventures North toward Mt. Shasta tomorrow!

Your kids miss you! Enjoy reading their shout outs below.

Sumner: Hi Mom, Dad, Cece, and Marshall, I’ve been having the best time but I do miss you guys; to dad, happy Father’s Day, I wish I could have been with you but thank you so much for making this trip possible!

Sophie: Hey mom, dad, Lois, and Daniel, thank you for making this trip possible because I’m having the best time; I miss y’all so much and happy late Father’s Day! (tell Sam i say hi).

Tanner: what up mom , father thank you in advance for this trip; having major fun and exciting adventures, missing y’all, love you happy Father’s Day – tanner

Wilson. Gavin: Hey Moms and Kendall (actually not sure if Kendall reads these)! I’m having such an incredible time and making great friends that make the trip so much more enjoyable! Love and miss y’all!

SG: Happy Father’s Day to dad and pop, missing you nan and lady. love all of you and am having the time of my life, thank you for this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Wils: love y’all, I’m having fun and killing it! Also happy Father’s Day papa and Toto, love you

Burke: Hey Dad, Happy Fathers Day, I know Mom and Caleb made it a special day but I wish I could be there!

Edward: Hey family, miss you guys, but I’m having a great time on this trip and am able to do cool mountain stuff each day (happy Father’s Day dad)

Maria: Hi Dad, happy Father’s Day, I hope you are enjoying your time with all of us out of the house! I’m having tons of fun and miss you all so much!

Kate: Hey Mom and Dad! Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I miss you guys very much but I’m having a blast and pushing myself and conquering all my fears. Hugs and kisses to all!

Helen: Hi mom and dad and happy Father’s Day, I hope you guys had fun in Boston, I’ve been having a great time out in California, so no need to worry! 🙂

Maggie: Hey Mom, Drew, Clay, and Brady! I miss you guys so much, but I’m having a lot of fun love ya, mean it!

Masters of the Rocks!

June 13, 2021

Two days of rock climbing complete, and our group left at the right time with a balance of desire for more and satisfaction. We met our rock climbing guides Connor and Kevin early the first morning and we headed to the spot. We were confronted with a large slab of sloping rock. It was deceptively tricky to climb but the team rocked it! Our guides were so impressed and enthused with working with us that one changed his schedule so he could climb with us day two as well! Many fears were conquered on the first day and the group was ready for more. Day two was steeper and included more upper body strength.

It was so awesome to see everyone’s progress over just two days. Both Kate and Tanner had amazing transformations starting with hesitation on day one and ending with stellar confidence on day two. Maria proved to be a natural climber and worked hard through tricky spots. Gavin showed tremendous resilience as he overcame is fear of heights. Both he and Maggie showed calculated confidence in their climbs and pride at the end. Helen is an absolute speedster on the rocks, impressing us all. Burke’s enthusiasm and encouragement of other was much needed and landed him a spot as one of the LOD’s tomorrow. Sarah Grace accomplished climbs with cool and collected ease. Edward as one of the days LOD’s kept the mood fun and the energy positive. Sophie, as the other LOD role modeled courage as she tried climbs she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do. And Sumner was able to crush climbs and snap pictures with her camera!

Back at camp spike ball is a hit! There is large debate between the current winning team. Edward and Gavin overall have the most wins and there are many teams close behind. However, Wills is convinced he is the reigning champion on an individual basis.   Last night, the students snuck a softball sized frog into the leader tent, and we almost didn’t notice despite their comment of “good night, don’t let the bed frogs bite”! We are eating well with burgers, BBQ chicken sandwiches, and enchiladas on the menu. Backpacking starts tomorrow! Our bags are packed with just group gear and food left to fit in. We can’t wait for this back country adventure to begin!

Catching Waves in California!

June 11, 2021

Greetings from California! Airport day was as successful as it could be! Elijah and I (Anna) waited with nervous excitement for each student to arrive – so much so that we were pacing around the baggage claim before anyone arrived! Everyone was met with smiles and a hug! The group played games and went on walks as we waited for everyone’s arrival. We also enjoyed some great local pizza at the first campsite which was gorgeous. Classic California ocean views. After Moonup, we sat on the beach and watched the sunset. A great first day!

Today was our amazing student Sarah Grace’s birthday!! Which we all enjoyed celebrating very much. We packed up at our beautiful campsite to journey to Pacifica State Beach for surfing. Wills and Helen were chosen as our LODs given their previous experiences as Moondance students. Wills and our surfing instructors hit it off right away and gave us all some good laughs. The first wave went to Sarah Grace which she stood up on! Gavin was quick to cruise waves and was catching them on his own in no time. Tanner kept the group laughing with his jokes. Helen and Maria impressed everyone and the guides with their surfing skills. Edward and Burke had fun in having balance competitions on the boards. We had great weather and great energy the whole day. Our guides raved about how great our group was and how much fun they had with us – their best group yet this season! Sophie and Maggie were a big part of that, always having high spirits and taking in all the fun. Kate and Sumner really took every wave they could and were some of the last in the water trying to get a good final wave to ride into shore. It was a great time and the whole group is really looking forward to when we all get to catch some waves again! And the anticipation is high for the world-famous rock climbing at Yosemite!

Elijah and I are amazed by the group’s dynamic and inclusivity. We think it is very safe to safe everyone feels welcome in this space and celebrated for who they are – an amazing feat for just two days into the trip and we wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true!

All Have Arrived!

June 9, 2021

Hello Yosemite 1 Families!

The whole group has arrived safely in San Francisco, and they are headed to their first campsite! 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 at least three trip updates throughout the next few weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shoutout mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!!

-Moondance HQ


  • Burke
  • Edward
  • Gavin
  • Helen
  • Kate
  • Maggie
  • Maria
  • Sarah Grace
  • Sophie
  • Wills
  • Tanner
  • Sumner