July 24, 2022
Wow, we sure have had an amazing time here in Belize. Since we last reached out, we have enjoyed four amazing days in Placencia, Belize. Based in Placencia is our diving outfitter, with whom the kids received their diving certification. During our four days of diving, we visited two spectacular sites: Laughing Bird Caye and Silk Caye. Both sites are a part of the Belize Barrier Reef System, and Laughing Bird Caye is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While the non-certified divers worked on their open water course, the rest of the gang went out to dive. During these dives, we saw some pretty incredible things. Walker, Brendan, Caroline, Trent, and Katy dove with Thomas and Andrea. They saw lobsters, conchs, grouper, angel fish, and many more beautiful sea creatures. The most exciting park of these dives was when several adult and juvenile nurse sharks followed us along our dive path. Brendan, Walker, and Katy were all brave enough to touch the sharks. While she excelled during the first two dives, Caroline decided to hang out with Blake on the boat for some of her next dives. During this time, she was very patient and respectful while waiting for the other divers to come up. Trent was always asking questions about the dive sites and learning as much as possible. We admire his ambition.
While we explored deep below the surface, the rest of the gang stayed shallow to practice their skills. Eleanor listened to her diving instructors with patience and easily grasped all ideas thrown at her during the instruction. Although Abbie struggled with some ear-related issues, she worked hard during the course and kept a great attitude while handling adversity. AB and Charlie shared a precious moment with their dive master, Eric, when they all hugged underwater during their first deep-water exercise dive. Jack was always on top of things, from the water to the dock, as he never failed to help and bring an amazing attitude to each moment.
When we weren’t on the water, we had a lot of downtime in Placencia. We spent the majority of this downtime hanging out at our hostel, which had a pool and a very comfortable common area for the kids to use. Jack never failed in bringing everyone together during these moments. Whether leading dance battles, pool games, or conversation, he always found a way to keep things interesting for the rest of his peers. Alexandra also shined in these moments, breaking out of her shell, and showing a smile pretty much all the time. When we weren’t hanging at the hostel, we explored in the village at Placencia. Here, AB and Abigail led the girl gang on adventures through the many gift stores and snack bars. Charlie and Brendan purchased some pretty funky sunglasses.
Last night we enjoyed our final banquet and moon-up, and now we are waiting for their flights to depart from Belize City. It has been such a pleasure to lead these amazing kiddos… we can’t imagine a better group to finish the summer with. Each and every one of these campers have been so great, and we can’t wait to see them grow in the future! Thank you for sharing your precious kids with us.
Thomas Rowland, Blake Thacher, and Andrea Orazen
July 19, 2022
Hello from San Jose! We’ve made some amazing memories these past five days while we were in El Brujo and rafting the Pacarue River.
Since we last updated y’all, we have completed the service aspect of our adventure. For three full days the kids hiked to a small community and completed tasks around the community center for the locals. Jack, Trent, AB, and Eleanor headed out to the soccer field to plant Cacao seeds. They were working so hard even though it was an extra hot day! After a well deserved lunch, we walked back to Buenaventura where we would stay for the next two nights. Amazing friendships blossomed on these walks. One that stands out is Alexandra and Trent. They lead the pack with their speed walking and talking. Once we got back to Buenaventura we showered and played card games for the rest of the afternoon and had a wonderful cooking class in the evening. During our cooking class we made pupusas to have along with our chicken and rice dinner.
The next day the group continued on with their service work. Today Walker and Caroline were hard at work painting the benches for the kitchen. They had so much fun while doing so it was such a joy to watch them! After our service work the kids were able to hang out with some of the local kids. For hours they played soccer, and practiced their Spanish, but most importantly made meaningful friendships. Abigail and Abbie made a new best friend. They were so sad when we had to say goodbye but so thankful for the friend they met.
On our final day of service, they got to play soccer with the local kids of El Brujo. Katy was a pro on the field and led her team to victory. Brendan on the other hand was interacting with the crowd and getting them pumped up for the intense game! It came down to the last second! The kids had so much fun. They are always smiling and making every moment the best one! We love and appreciate their positive spirits.
After service, we headed to Turrialba to begin our rafting journey on the legendary Pacuare River. Over the two days, we rafted over 15 miles, facing class three and four plus rapids. Our group was spilt into three boats. We were very impressed by Charlie’s enthusiasm and excitement during the trip. He led his boat to a successful journey by setting the tone and setting an amazing example of living in the moment. Bravo, Charlie!
Now, as we write this update, the group is getting some rest before our early morning departure for Belize. The kids are so excited and so are we! Before we end this update, the kids have some shoutouts to give!
Until next time,
Blake, Andrea + Thomas
Katy: Hey Mom and Dad, I am having so much fun!! Tell Gray I said hi and I hope he is having fun in Michigan, love ya!
Abigail: Hi Momma and Pops, I’ve been having the best time here!! I love y’all so much and tell Caroline Happy Birthday!!!
Trent: Hi mom and dad camp is fun and I miss u. Tell scout and Winnie I miss them.
Walker: What up me and Brendan are having a great time with some friends we made and everyday has been fun
Caroline: hello >_>
Alexandra: Hi mom and dad, I’m having so much fun and I miss you guys. See you soon.
Eleanor: hey mom and dad I am having a great time. Love you guys and can’t wait to see y’all.
Abbie: WHATUPPPP miss you. Having so fun. Tell James hbd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?
AB: hiii, having a good time! Happy birthday mom! Miss y’all.
Charlie: hello Susan, Thad, Henry, and Nathan, I miss y’all and am having a great time.
Jack: hi mom and dad I’m exited to show you my journal when I get back I love you
Brendan: WAZZZZZUPPPPPPP-love Brendan
July 13, 2022
¡Hola! We have had an AMAZING first couple of days in Costa Rica and are currently enjoying our time surfing in Uvita. Day one already seems so long ago….
Our trip started in the airport cafe, where we waited for everyone to trickle in from their different flights. Our first three kids to arrive, Alexandra, Abigail, and Charlie, took no time at all before getting to know each other and playing card games, even though they still had their electronics. It’s awesome to see kids choose not to stick with what they’re comfortable with right off the bat. After everyone had arrived, we packed our bags on our bus and made our way to our first stop – the Adventure Inn! As soon as we settled into our rooms at the hotel, all the kids decided they wanted to hang out at the pool. Brendan did huge cannonballs into the deep end while the girls circled up and played a group game. Before we knew it, everyone was invested in the group game and we all played. At our first Moonup that night, we went over all our expectations from the kids for this trip while also demonstrating the structure of how to lead Moonup, as our LODs control it after the first night. We were all exhausted from our first day, so we headed to bed early to get ready for our first day of activities.
Ziplining was our first activity and everyone loved it! Being up in the treetops is unlike anything else. Jack and Katy were especially intrigued by the leaf cutter ants we spotted between ziplines and spent fifteen minutes watching them carry their leaves up and down a tree trunk. Abbie had the best facial expressions when she flew into each platform – it was a hilarious mix between fear and pure excitement. After ziplining, we headed to our first surf lesson in Uvita, where the kids quickly became surf pros. AB and Trent impressed us all and stood up on their first wave, although all the kids got up soon after! Walker, despite having both his ankles in braces, stood up on multiple waves and cheered as he moved towards the shore. Caroline got up a few times and then made sandcastles with my co-leader Andrea on the shore. Our first LODs, Brendan and Katy, led an amazing Moonup that night, making us giggle almost the whole time. It was a great first example of a good Moonup.
Fishing was our activity yesterday and boy, did we catch some fish! Charlie almost brought in our first fish but lost it just as he was pulling it into the boat. Eleanor quickly made up for the loss and reeled in a big Spanish Mackerel. AB followed suit, bringing in another Spanish Mackerel for us to look at. Alexandra took a special interest in the fish and other marine life native to Costa Rica and asked our guide a myriad of thought-provoking questions about the Spanish Mackerel, sharks, tsunamis, and everything in between. Jack kept the energy up throughout the fishing trip and was almost jumping up and down with every fish they caught. Abigail reeled in a tiny fish, which made everyone howl with laughter at how silly the little fish was. We had a relaxed afternoon after fishing and the kids spent almost the whole time in the pool. Charlie and Jack lead a songwriting session for the boys, and we’re all waiting patiently for their rap song debut.
Today, we are off to the next portion of our trip, our community service! We cannot wait for our next adventure, especially knowing our kids are so enthusiastic about helping the community of El Brujo in any way they can.
Until next time!
Blake, Andrea, and Thomas
July 10, 2022
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in San Jose. 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!