June 20, 2022
Surfs up in Pacifica!!!!!!
We woke up to the gorgeous blue waves and salty breeze of Half Moon Bay.
On the first morning of surfing, we met JWow and Russ by the ocean where we were all fit into our very own personalized wetsuits! Putting these on was a challenge itself but once they were on, the kids pretended to be superheroes notably Lila K. being Elastagirl from the Incredibles. After learning the basics from our awesome surf instructors, we hit the waves! Lila K. and Baker immediately got right up, with David and Lila M. not far behind them. Elizabeth and Lizzy tried to high-five each other while surfing, and Graham sported a massive smile the entire time in the water. Anna took action pics of some hilarious wipeouts. Overall, it was a GNARLY day of surfing. Afterward, the kids were surprised with the “#1 Taco Bell in America”, which sits right on the sand of Pacifica Beach. Livia and Elizabeth tried Baja Blasts first the first time, while David and Lizzy devoured their tacos at record speed. Lila K. and Baker tried their tropical slushies and Maggie jammed to the music inside the restaurant… it was an extraordinary lunch. We drove over to a beautiful pier where David graciously gave out deep tissue shoulder massages, and Baker and Graham spotted some sea lions.
Back at camp, we hit the beach where Lizzy, David, Lila K., Baker, and Graham challenged each other to a volleyball match. Elizabeth, Lila K., Maggie, and Lizzy took some well-deserved naps, while Livia caught up on some summer reading. Afterward, the group TIE DYED t-shirts, which was Livia’s first time and she CRUSHED it with her color choices. Lila K. also made a beautiful t-shirt that Anna begged to buy from her. Finally, we introduced the kids to the greatest Moondance tradition of all time… IRON CHEF circa 2022!!!! David, Elizabeth, Livia, and Baker took on Lizzy, Maggie, Graham, Lila K., and Lila M. to an intense cook-off. They had ample time to make a game plan for their dishes and then raced each other to the provided ingredients. David, Elizabeth, Livia, and Baker made homemade mac-n-cheese that contained fried chicken and topped off with Chick-fil-A sauce, while the other group made cheese quesadillas over rice and sautéed onions, along with a chips and salsa appetizer. The Mac-n-cheese won for creativity and flair but the quesadillas won for presentation and overall taste. Both groups shared their delicious creations with each other and were all so proud of how far their cooking skills have come! Afterward, Lila K., Lila M., Baker, and Graham threw the frisbee, while Livia and David helped us with dessert. We were suddenly ALL surprised by the arrival of another California group at the campsite!! We sprinted over to greet them and played group games until Elizabeth and Graham, our LODs, began Moonup. The 11 of us piled into a tent where each kid took a turn in the hot seat to be complimented and described in one word. This was one of my personal favorite Moonups!
The next morning, FATHER’S DAY, was a bright-eyed and joyful one. After some restful sleep, the blue skies and sunshine woke the kids up with chipper moods ready to attack the day. Elizabeth and Lila K. cheffed up the last pancake breakfast topped off with loads of chocolate chips— shout-out to the Maggie creation. After Graham and Anna took a peaceful beach stroll, we passed out paperwork for the kids to complete in which they thoughtfully reflected on their Moondance experience. It was a peaceful morning of cleaning, packing, and enjoying each other in the sunshine to get us ready for our afternoon surfing lesson!! Back at the beach, the kids changed into their superhero suits and immediately hit the waves. Today was the day for everyone to catch their VERY FIRST WAVE… David was up to the challenge immediately popping up on his board, followed by Lila M. and her natural surfing talents. Elizabeth, encapsulating the total surfer vibe, cheered on Lizzy as she too ‘shredded the gnar.’ Baker stayed out in the water the longest, attempting every last wave he could. After saying goodbye to our guides, we hit the car wash to clean Zuzu van, and then the THRIFT store to shop for banquet night!! After a deep clean shower party, we arrived at to banquet in style… Lila M. won best dressed, a mix of Hollywood and Hawaii, while Maggie emulated total surfer chick vibes, and the boys Hawaiian-styled rappers. After stuffing ourselves with a DELISH final meal, we topped it off with ice cream, and concluded day 13 with a wonderful, reflective Moonup.
We have had the absolute ‘trip of a lifetime’ with these kiddos and tears are being shed at the airport currently. We are confident that these bonds are going to last forever and are so lucky to have had such a perfect group for our first trip session. We can’t wait for you to hear about their memories, stories, highs, lows, and BUFFALOS!!!!!
Until next time,
Anna Barkley and Carter Bowles
June 18, 2022
Hi from Sausalito!!!
We are currently on our way to the LAST campsite in Half Moon Bay. We are soaking in every minute because time is going by way too fast. We’ve had an eventful past two days exploring. We were rewarded with grass at our campsite after Yosemite’s lovely dirt and sand storms. The group was able to sleep-in Thursday AM and Carter chefed up some eggs, sausage, and fruit for the kids for breakfast.
We explored Point Reyes National Seashore starting the day with a long hike to the beach. Maggie found an awesome spot on the beach for us to take a break and have lunch. Graham, David, and Anna went on a lovely beach walk while the rest of the group soaked in the rays on the sand. Baker and Lila K. caught as many crabs as they could find, along with some oyster shells (that Baker begged to take home). Livia reminded him about our LNT principles, so Baker decided to leave his prized possessions behind. Our conversations were priceless and made the hikes through Point Reyes go by so speedily. Elizabeth told us all about her crazy recurring dreams while Lila M. enlightened us about how to lucid dream. Elizabeth and Livia bonded over still checking out Target’s Barbie aisle, while Lizzy and Lila M. discussed their American Girl doll collections. After reminiscing on childhood memories, we made our way to the sea lion overlook where Baker and Graham were the first to spot the cute, barking mammals. Carter gave his best sea lion impression which brought Lizzy lots of laughter. We then walked over to see the Point Reyes lighthouse which Lila K. thought was awesome! After our long day of exploration, we stopped at a cute local market where David and Baker treated themselves to warm cookies, Elizabeth got banana bread, and popcorn for Lila M. which she graciously shared with the group. Back at camp, we had a photo shoot, played some intense rounds of Mafia, which Lila K. dominated, and chowed down on an appetizer of chips and GUAC. We ended the day with some delicious dinner followed by David, Graham, and Baker cleaning up the kitchen for everyone… such kind gentlemen! Our LODs, Baker and Lizzy, led a reflective Moonup where we talked about what’s been the most challenging part of our trip for everyone. Reflecting on our memories, stories, and time together is making us emotional as the final days are creeping up.
The kids slept hard last night and enjoyed a slow morning as we prepared to say “bye” to Point Reyes. After the kids enjoyed some local bagels, we hit the road for San Francisco. First up, the Golden Gate Bridge! Everyone was eager to walk across it after our photoshoot ended so we formed our line and successfully made it across. The kids were organized, mindful of their surroundings, and very responsible… never got yelled at by an angry biker! Graham was all smiles sporting his Warriors beanie, while David tried to jump and touch every tall sign. We treated the kids’ accomplishment to ice cream in the cute town of Sausalito where Lizzy’s ‘princess cake’ ice cream was gone in seconds, as was Maggie’s chocolate-coffee. We then took some time to explore where David, Graham, Lila K., and Baker found an incredible massage store. Livia, Elizabeth, and Lila M. took this time to do some shopping therapy. Baker, Lizzy, and Maggie found some hilarious socks at Soxalito that they’re already rocking.
Back in the car, we are now driving to Half Moon Bay… our last campsite. Everyone’s napping at the moment, recovering from 10 days of FUN, adventure, exploring, laughing, and having the BEST summer of their lives. They cannot wait to share all of their memories with y’all as well as some thoughtful souvenirs they found today!
Next up, SURFING in Pacifica!!!
Anna and Carter
And now… some additional ‘thank-you’ shout outs from the crew:
Elizabeth: Thank your so much, mom and dad, for sending me on this awesome trip! It has been so much fun and I have met so many great people!
Lila M: Thank y’all so much mom and dad for sending me on this trip! It’s so much fun and I love you guys so much!
Maggie: Thank you so much mom and dad for sending me on this trip! I’ve had so much fun and I’ve met so many amazing people! Love you guys!
Graham: Thank you so much for sending me on this amazing trip. I have had a great time enjoying the wilderness and meeting new friends.
Lizzy: thank you so much for sending me on this trip.I have made so many new friends and memories, I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
David: Thank you so much Mom and Dad for sending me on this amazing. It has been has so much fun. Miss you so much
Lila K: Thank You so much mom and dad for allowing me to go on this amazing trip, I have made so many good memories, can’t wait to tell y’all all about them. Miss and Love y’all!
Livia: Thank you, Mom and Dad for letting me go on this trip. I’ve had so much fun and I’ve met some great people. I have so many stories to tell you guys when I get home. Love you guys so much!
Baker: Hey mom and dad just wanted to let y’all know how thankful I am that y’all let me go on this trip. I will see y’all soon and I love all of my family so much.
June 13, 2022
Hello from Lake Tahoe!!!!!
The group has collectively agreed that Lake Tahoe is the most beautiful place in the world. Its clear waters remind Lila K. of 30A. Baker and Lila M. scored the jackpot here for rock skipping. Our first morning in Lake Tahoe was an early one, woken up by some chirpy birds. But this allowed lots of time for Elizabeth to whip up some delicious chocolate chip pancakes for everyone. We then hit the road for the lake!!
Our two awesome guides took us on a kayaking expedition to a beautiful beach where we enjoyed lunch— Costco’s white bread is the group’s new obsession. The water was chilly, but once again Graham jumped in first with the biggest smile. On the way back, Baker and Anna tipped over in dramatic fashion and were glad they could say they’ve fallen in Lake Tahoe. Lizzy and Graham showed awesome teamwork in their kayak while Maggie and Carter led the pack with their strong paddle skills.
Afterwards, the kids were surprised with a local ice cream stop where Elizabeth inspired us with her mint chocolate chip + cookie dough combo, and Lizzy tried ‘mochi’. We took their sugar rush as an opportunity to go and hike Cascade Falls, where David and Lizzy absolutely crushed their LOD responsibilities. They navigated the trail and led the group to a stunning waterfall. Livia, Lizzy, and David were the group’s speediest hikers, and Graham was a natural with his hiking stick.
After a fun-filled day of activity, we convened back at the campsite for a shower PARTY!!! Morgan Wallen has been playing on repeat thanks to Maggie. She always leads our jam sessions. Baker gave Anna his face routine tutorial and graciously shared some cleaning wipes with the group— parents, y’all rock with the packing!
A ranger warned us about nearby wildlife sightings! Baker and Graham reminded us about wildlife protocol and nerves were eased. Livia, always first to start meal prep, helped Lila M. and Lizzy make some delicious spaghetti for dinner, accompanied by a Cesar salad that David devoured.
The night wasn’t over yet… we found a REMARKABLE spot for Moonup down at the lake during sunset. As Lila K., Maggie, and Graham skipped rocks, Baker and Lila M. scared away some geese with their hilarious banter. After a huge photo shoot capturing the kids with the pinks and blues of the water and sky, we circled up and concluded an eventful and amazing Friday.
On Saturday morning, Lizzy, Livia, and David joined Anna for an early sunrise hike, good conversations, and lots of uphill… they crushed it. Elizabeth graciously cheffed up some “bussing” pancakes again. Lila K. and Lila M. took the reigns as LODs, motivating everyone to pack up camp and hit the lake.
Today we went paddle-boarding and relaxed in the water, soaking up our last few hours in Lake Tahoe. Maggie and Lila K. came up with the group’s spirit animals as Graham jumped into the chilly waters. Baker showed off his speedy standup paddling skills while Elizabeth, Lila M., and Lizzy took the opportunity to work on their tans. After saying goodbye to the glorious, clear and turquoise waters, we hit the ice cream shop one last time after lunch. Graham tried summer sausage for the first time and David downed a large milkshake. We said our sad goodbyes to Lake Tahoe but reignited the excitement for our scenic drive to YOSEMITE!!!
The students had a good nap and woke up to the beautiful mountains and lakes of Yosemite. Graham and David immediately spotted the basketball court and challenged Lila M., Lila K., and Elizabeth to a game. Girls won! Maggie, Lizzy, Baker, and Livia helped cook dinner and set up camp. We have a stunning view of the lake where we will be jumping in shortly. The group is nonstop laughing and have formed such close friendships that it makes the days fly by with joy, excitement, and fun!! We can’t wait to see what Yosemite has in store.
More updates to come!!
Anna Barkley and Carter Bowles
Baker: Hey Mom and Dad. I am having a blast in California. This trip has changed me so much mentally and physically.
David: Dear Adam, Sam, Noah, Sophia, Mom and Dad,
I miss you is much but I am having so much fun. I’ve already learned so much!
Lila K: To Mom and Dad,
Hey Mom and Dad, I miss y’all a lot but Moondance has been so much fun. Can’t wait to see y’all.
Livia: Hey Mom, Dad, Kate, and Luke! Dad, sorry for missing your birthday… and Father’s Day but Happy Birthday! Luke, have a fun time in Europe. Kate, have fun whatever you’re doing. Mom, say hi to Fritz for me. Love you all, bye!!
Maggie: Hey Mom and Dad,
I’ve had such a great time and have been getting out of my comfort zone. Miss you and love you.
Lila M: Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having lots of fun! I am also able to sleep! I’m on the way to a REALLY long hike right now. I have to keep this short, so I miss y’all so much and I’m so excited to see you. Love you!
Graham: Dear Mom and Dad,
I miss you guys so much, but I’m having a great time trying new things and making new friends. Love you guys so much!
Lizzy: Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having so much fun, can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get back! Tell Helen and Turner that I miss them! ily!
Elizabeth: Hey Mom and Dad! I miss y’all very much, but am having a blast! I have met so many great people and have tried many new things! Right now, I am on the way to a hike in Yosemite. Please tell Caroline and Hammond I love and miss them! I can’t wait to see y’all!
June 10, 2022
HELLO from California!!!
Wow, what an amazing first three days we have spent together. Everyone keeps saying how they feel like they have all met each other before… the laughter, friendships, stories, and jokes are endless with this group. We began our adventure with a spectacular drive to our first campsite where we set up tents and devoured some delicious PIZZA. Livia and David carried the group with the most cucumbers eaten, and the whole group bonded over ranch dressing, Morgan Wallen, and why they chose Moondance. We closed our long travel day with a great Moonup where Carter asked the group’s B+ superpowers, and everyone got a well deserved night of sleep.
We had prepared to let the kids sleep in Wednesday morning, however they haven’t adjusted to the time change and we’re chatting up a storm on our campsite’s log at 6:15 am… early bird gets the worm! Our first ‘leaders of the day’ were Maggie and Graham who helped prepare our very first breakfast! Baker helped figure out how to work the stove, while Maggie and Graham cracked open 24 eggs. After we stuffed our faces with hash browns, eggs, and fruit, we all pitched in with cleaning crew.
Off to our rafting expedition! Our courageous and TERRIFIC guides led us down the American River in class 2 and 3 rapids. Lizzy and Graham were always the first to jump in the chilly water, which made others want to follow. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Lila K soaked in the rays. In Anna’s raft (named Mcflufffy), Maggie and Livia navigated the rapids in the front while Baker and David kept the laughter alive. Lila M. was a balance queen as she could stand up the longest on the raft while her raft group practiced their left and right turns. We chanted “Eureka” and “Oochiwala” through the rapids, eventually getting stuck in Catcher’s Mitt— however, Livia’s natural leadership skills got us out super quick. We stopped for an incredible lunch on the water prepared by the guides where I’ve never seen a group of kids down an Oreo box so fast.
After a great day on the river, we treated ourselves to the campsite’s glorious showers. Lila K. and Lila M., who have an awesome Lila squared handshake, sported their hair towels around camp while Graham and David tried to see who could throw the football the furthest. Livia set up her hammock as we waited for an amazing dinner provided by the guides…. steak, chicken, pasta, salad, roasted peppers, bread, and strawberry shortcake. The group sat at dinner for two hours telling stories and cackling with the two wittiest jokesters, Maggie and Baker. But we can also all agree that Lila K. always has the most elaborate stories. What impressed the entire group was Baker who cleaned EVERY single dish. This kid is a cleaning machine and has asked to help clean at every single meal!! His expedition behavior along with his humor, positivity, and energy is what made Baker the next LOD, along with our group’s most kind and hilarious energizer, Elizabeth!!
Elizabeth and Baker woke up the group for one last meal provided by our guides. We stuffed ourselves once again and hit the river for our last day of rafting.
On the second rafting day, we were impressed with how the kids were already pros. Elizabeth wowed everyone with her strong paddling skills, leading her raft up in the front. Both rafts conquered the “meat-grinder” rapids and the “triple threat” while solving riddles, singing T-swift, learning all about Lizzy’s family’s names, and once again following Graham and Lizzy into the water for a swim. The group dynamic is already so strong and the energy of this group is powerful. Each kid has such a special role in the group and it made for a really fun day on the river.
After a cold soda surprise, we hopped in the van and headed to Lake Tahoe!!! Baker took some beautiful shots of the epic view while Lila M. showed off her speed talking skills. Lila K. requested some really good music as the entire group sang their hearts out the entire two hours. Listening to David’s new rap and Lila M.’s extreme speed talking skills, we arrived to the campsite with even MORE energy than in the car. Immediately the spike ball was out as Lizzy, Livia, and Elizabeth set up the night’s dinner. Lila M. showed off some impressive whiffle ball skills while Graham and Maggie tried to hit the Kadima ball back and forth a thousand times. This trio knows how to cook some tasty fajitas! Baker tried canned chicken for the first time while Lila K. got into the guacamole. Lizzy and Lila M. helped Baker clean dishes and get the campsite ready for bed and remind the group about bear protocol.
The kids are loving closing the day with Moonup all together sharing the highlights of the day, most grateful moments, and just being together under the moon. Elizabeth and Baker showed awesome leadership and passed the LOD hats off to Lizzy and David! The kids ended the night in a tent triangle, laughing hysterically to hopefully keep the bears away!
More adventures to come soon!
Anna Barkley and Carter Bowles
June 7, 2022
Hello California Families!
The whole group arrived safely in San Francisco today and is on their way to their first campsite. We have heard from our leaders this afternoon 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