July 9, 2022
Hello parents! This is Thomas, and I am happy and sad at the same time while typing this final trip update in the San Jose Airport. Wow, what an amazing trip this has been. Blake and I feel so lucky to have led each and every one of these amazing kiddos. We have seen them grow so much during the trip, and we are so proud of them. We will miss them dearly. As they leave us, I am reminding them not to be sad because the trip is over, but to be happy that it happened. We’ve just given their phones back, so they are all connecting with each-other via various forms of social media…
Yesterday, we enjoyed our last two activities: surfing and ziplining. Our morning surf session was short, but so much fun. Everyone loved the surfing. Charlotte, Ari, Steven, Macy, and Mills were our MVPs of this session. They absolutely crushed it, laughing and smiling throughout the entirety of the lesson. The rest of the pack did amazing as well! As we wrapped up out session, the kids raved about how much fun the morning had been so far. They didn’t know it, but it was only about eight o’clock! We headed back for breakfast and got ready to depart for lunch and ziplining. During the ride, almost everyone napped and enjoyed some downtime.
As we arrived at the ziplining outfitter, everyone was thrilled for the activity. But first we ate lunch. Shepherd found what could be his new favorite snack, yuca fries. He ate about fifteen of these fries, which were quite large, and exclaimed how good they tasted. Taite enjoyed the strawberry shortcake, and even got some extra, as Scarlett gifted hers away selflessly. Scarlett’s selflessness has really shined throughout the entire trip. After lunch, we got started on our ziplining tour. Charlotte and Shepherd were especially excited for it to begin. Although he was nervous at first, Devan overcame his fears and really enjoyed the activity. We stopped for ice cream and souvenirs on the way back to San Jose… All of the kids enjoyed shopping for themselves and bragged about the gifts they’d purchased for friends and family.
During our banquet and final dinner. We all laughed and reminisced on moments from the trip. We all enjoyed banana flambé as a treat for dessert before heading to our final moon up. Hicks and Ari were out last LODs, so they led the group. During the final moon up, we spoke about the moments when we felt the most connected as a group, as well as the funniest moment. Then we gave the person sitting to our left a large “nug”. The nug jug is a Moondance tradition, which allows the students to give a compliment (nug) to someone or something they appreciated during the day. During this, Mills and Sophie really opened up, causing many of our emotions to grow. Happy tears were cried, and many laughs were had. Karan was especially kind during his turn, and set an example for how the final moon-up should be.
As we wrap up this session, Blake and I are so thankful for this group. It has been an absolute pleasure to lead these kids; y’all should be very proud of them. I know we sure are. We can’t wait to keep in touch with them over the years, watching them continue to grow. I’m so confident that each of these kids will do great things! Thank y’all so much for sharing your children with us. We are so very grateful.
One last Pura Vida…
July 6, 2022
Hello from Uvita, Costa Rica! We’ve made some amazing memories since we last updated you.
Since we last updated y’all, we have completed our service section of the trip. Our group was filled with hard workers who realized the importance of helping others. For our service work, the children painted walls in a new community center and on the playground, cleaned furniture, and cut/raked the soccer field grass. Hicks worked happily, scrubbing chairs with ease while encouraging others to work harder. Taite, Charlotte, and Sophie braved the heat while leading a pack of campers in an effort to clean up the soccer field. Ari and Macy did a fantastic job painting. After service, we played a soccer game with the other Moondance group, as well as some children from El Brujo. Our team played well, and we ended up getting the win. Ari was our MVP for soccer… everyone was in awe of her skills. We think she has a future as a soccer star.
In between our service sections, we enjoyed some very fun activities: a cooking class, a chocolate making class, a farm tour, and the avatar blue clay adventure. During our cooking class, we made pupusas, a traditional treat from El Salvador. Mills and Ari were particularly great in their crafting of these pupusas. During our chocolate making class, Shepherd and Charlotte were particularly enthusiastic. Karan ground the cacao into cacao powder, which is essential in the chocolate making process. Next was our avatar blue clay adventure where the kids painted themselves with blue clay. Blue clay is known for its healing and rejuvenating effects. Steven and Sophie loved this activity. Devan helped others, volunteering to paint them and draw designs with the orange clay.
On the way out of El Brujo, Devan and Karan sat in the open-air truck. The two buddies were in awe of the views they passed. During this drive, Scarlett led a “Hamilton” singalong. Taite helped her remember lyrics. We rested up when we arrived in Uvita, as we prepared for a big day of fishing and surfing ahead. During our fishing trip, Devan caught the lone fish of the day: a beautiful Mahi Mahi. Steven was very enthusiastic about the boat ride. When we stopped for lunch at a remote beach, we all tried to crack coconuts. Macy and Charlotte were the first to crack their coconuts and enjoy the coconut water. As our fishing trip ended, we geared up to go surfing. In the afternoon class, Shepherd and Hicks showed their skills, surfing like naturals. During our morning section today, Scarlett and Sophie surfed like pros.
Now we are headed for our final activity: Zip-lining. This trip has really flown by, and we are sad that the group will be leaving us so soon. They have been an absolute joy to lead, and we will miss them dearly!
-Thomas and Blake
From the kids:
thank you so much for this amazing opportunity, it was awesome to explore a new country. i love you! – taite
thank you so much for letting me come on this trip and i miss you guys so much -ari
thank you so much mom for letting me go on moondance, this has been the best memory of my life and i miss y’all so much! – scarlett
thank you so much mom and dad for sending me to moondance and i’m so grateful to be able to have this opportunity-charlotte
thanks for letting me do this. it was a lot of fun and i enjoyed it to the fullest. I had a great time with bonding with my new friends and i feel like this brought some joy to my face. -devan
thank you so much for letting me go on this trip mom and dad. it was a life changing opportunity and i’m so greatful for the chance to do this. i love y’all -mills
thank you so much mom and dad for this trip. i love you and am so excited to see you soon! – sophie
thank you so much for the amazing opportunity you gave me i had such a good time on this trip and am so grateful i love you guys so much and can’t wait to see you soon -macy
thank you so much for letting me go on this trip. i’m excited to see you guys soon. – Shepherd
thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip. i had such a fantastic time and will appreciate it for eternities.love you -hicks
thank you so much for giving me this amazing opportunity to go and meet new people!-Steven
Thank you so much mom and dad for allowing me to experience an amazing jaunt to Costa Rica and Belize. Miss you-karan
July 2, 2022
Hello from San Isidro, Costa Rica! Due to some inclement weather conditions, we had to make slight changes in our original plan of arriving at Buenaventura today. So, we stopped for lunch at a local spot called Bazooka’s. After that, we headed to our hotel for the evening. Luckily, the hotel has a pool and a miniature turf soccer field. As soon as we arrived and unpacked, we met the other group of Moondance students for a giant game of soccer! This was a ton of fun, and several of the kids showed out! Ari was very skilled, weaving through many defenders with ease. Macy was a star in between the goalposts, saving a plethora of well placed shots. We enjoyed pizza before bed!
Before our trip to San Isidro, we spent two days rafting and enjoyed a night in Turrialba. On day one, we rafted six miles to our ecolodge. Karan and Taite led one of three rafts, since they were our leaders of the day. We were very impressed by their leadership and poise while at the helm. Raul, one of our guides, commended Charlotte for her quick learning abilities on the river. Sheppard encouraged her and the rest of his boat to keep paddling, despite us losing strength and energy. Thanks to him, we made it with no hiccups. As we hungout at the lodge, Devan and Karan started a giant game of UNO with the entire group. We laughed and smiled during this fierce competition!
On day 2, we were excited and anxious to get back out on the river. But before we could board our rafts, we had some cleaning up to do. Mills was one of our leaders of the day for this second day of rafting, and she decided to lead a cabin cleanup project. Thanks to her help, we were able to leave the ecolodge cabins looking very clean.
As we embarked on our fourteen mile journey, we began with some trouble on the first rapid. Blake’s boat went first, and everyone went flying! Well everyone except for Ari and Blake, that is. The two of them remained calm and were quick to pull the rest of their team back into the raft. On the next boat, Steven was the hero, showing intense strength while pulling others back into the boat with lightning speed. Despite falling out on two occasions, Scarlett laughed and smiled the whole time. She has such a great attitude, always. Sophie was a calming presence in the raft for everyone else as we zipped down class three to class four-plus rapids. She’s quite the encouraging leader, even when she isn’t the leader of the day. Another student who leads this way is Hicks. Hicks always has. Smile on his face, and man is he always giggling. His joy is contagious and he certainly brings the group up with him.
As we finished up, the kids were pretty worn out and so were we. We all napped pretty hard on the ride. By the time we pulled into Turrialba everyone was full of energy. Everyone was super excited when we announced our dinner plans: Chinese food! The kids went to sleep last night with full hearts and full bellies too!
Now, as the kids are resting for the day ahead, we are hoping that the weather will ease up. If so, we will continue our voyage into El Brujo to begin our service work! We really love these girls and guys, and feel so lucky to have them here with us. Stay tuned for more updates!
-Thomas and Blake
Hey Mom and Dad! Having a great time and I hope you are too, especially without the trouble of the kids. Miss you guys and see you soon! – Hicks
Hi mom and dad, I’m having so much fun and I miss u guys so so so much. I miss Zoe a lot too but I love you guys so much and I hope u were able to make it to Belize for vacation. I love you!! -ari
Hey Mom and Eva!! I hope y’all are having so much fun! I know I am. Eva, I cannot wait to hear all about NYU classes! I am having so much fun! I miss y’all sooooo much!! – Scarlett
Hey madre and padre!! I miss you guys but I’m having so much fun, the food is delicious and everyone is so nice and funny. Say hi to Nellie feather and popcorn . Can’t wait to see you! – Taite
Hey mom and dad! I’m having a great time and I really like the group and the leaders! Love y’all-Charlotte
Hi guys, I love you! Tell Henry and Elizabeth that I’m think of them.-Steven
Hi mom dad and Lindsay! I miss you guys so much. Tell brooks and Charlie that I miss them too. Love you! – Sophie
Hey guys! I miss you so much!! Moondance is so fun and I’m having a great time I love my group we played soccer last night and I scored 3ish goals also I’m scuba certified – Macy
Hi Mom and Dad! I love you and miss you so much!! Say hi to all the animals for me and let Oscar do whatever he wants please -Mills
Hey Mom and Dad! Costa Rica and Belize are beautiful, and I’m having a great time. Love you and miss you. -Karan
Hey mom and dad!!! I love you and miss you so much! Hope your having a great time! – Devan
Hi mom and dad love and miss you. Costa Rica and Belize are beautiful and I got scuba certified! – Shepherd
June 29, 2022
¡Hola from Costa Rica!
After four fun-filled scuba diving days in Long Caye, we made it to our first hotel. It’s been a crazy past couple day, but they have been full of amazing memories. On our first day, only seven of our kids could make it to Belize, curse Delta! Before our first kids ever even left the airport, they were making efforts to bond with their new friends. Steven was our first kid to arrive and immediately initiated conversations with all the leaders, genuinely trying to get to know them early on. Taite introduced various group games that got a smile out of everyone and offered to teach the girls how to make friendship bracelets. Even though we only had half of our family, our first two LODs, Sophie and Shepherd, helped make everyone feel comfortable right off the bat. Sophie really took charge and kept group morale high while Shepherd lead quietly but consistently whenever he got the chance. The first day with our seven kids was more relaxed; there was one scuba lesson in the morning and then they had the afternoon to get to know one another. Hicks was, and continues to be, the driver of most conversations and effortlessly gets everyone laughing almost immediately.
On day two, when our entire group was all together at last, there were giggles and excited screams that echoed across the island. Mills, Scarlett, and Macy spent the next two hours catching up with the other girls while Devan and Karan played a ball game with Sheppard. The next day, all the kids were in the water learning how to scuba dive. Scarlett picked up on the skills very quickly; she was born to be in the ocean! Devan and Karan decided that snorkeling was just as fun as being down under! They hung out on the surface and saw some tarpon, colorful coral, and even a glimpse of a turtle! Devan and Karan then did a cannonball off the boat to celebrate the end of the day.
After the long days of scuba diving, it was awesome to come back to our bungalow and hangout. Mills was always cracking everyone up with her hilarious comments and high energy. Everyone knows they can turn to her for a burst of positivity. Ari and Charlotte have proved to be amazing listeners and incredible confidants; all the girls know that they can turn to either of them for a calming and reassuring conversation.
During our last Moonup in Long Caye, our LODs, Steven and Macy, took our group by surprise. They put on a skit that ended with the two of them in the water, fully clothed! Macy was the mastermind behind the shocking jump into the water; she knows how to keep us on our toes!
Yesterday was our airport day and although it was a long and exhausting 24 hours, our kids were troopers. They kept each other laughing with crazy conversations and so many group games. Costa Rica welcomed us with open arms!
Today we are off to start the white-water rafting section of our group and we can’t wait!
Blake and Thomas
June 25, 2022
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Belize! 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!