June 20, 2022
Wow! What an end to the trip. After our In-N-Out adventure and hanging out late last night, we leaders were planning on letting some of the students sleep in. But as has become common this trip, Cooper F, Frank, and Cooper B were up early, ready to get after the day! Everyone else soon followed, and before long, Liza had started a huge game of hacky sack while breakfast was being cooked. We had a chill morning, with Brie and Brice teaching all of us how to perfectly flip a pancake. After a long meal, the students had a time to write letters to themselves, reflect, and sit quietly for a bit. Though it took a little bit of time, everyone bought into the task, and it was really cool seeing heads turn and thoughts settle out during this time.
Once the paperwork was done, a game of wiffle ball broke out. Harris and Sarah hit bombs! Everyone was enjoying the game, and eventually the leaders had to call it – no one wanted to stop! We piled in the van and drove to the Golden Gate Bridge before doing a brief hike to a vantage point. Amara instructed everyone to an impeccable “peace sign duck face” pose as the group got tons of great pictures.
After a great day, the real highlight of our trip’s end began. Doing our best to not give anything away, we pulled into the Goodwill near our campsite and let the students in the know. The theme for our last dinner, the banquet, was “funky town.” Each student had ten dollars and fifteen minutes, and when Celeste started the timer, the kids were off! Marge found the best sunglasses, and Kate started a trend by grabbing a tie. Frank had some “pretty sick” goggles and Hawaiian shirts were all the rave. Cooper B may have taken home the best outfit award, though, with some jorts, a sunhat, and a funky shirt. With an array of amazing new outfits, we piled back in the van for one last meal together at our banquet site of Mexican food! Everyone ate a ton of food… though there was still some room left in everyone’s bellies for churros at the end.
Full and happy, “Love Story,” by Taylor Swift jammed on the way home, and once we arrived, we organized, packed, and tie dyed Moondance t-shirts! Packing was efficient, and to end our trip, we all had a long and thoughtful Moonup. Everyone went around the circle and gave out nugs to each individual person. It was a really cool time for everybody, and though it was long, a little chilly, and a raccoon was spotted, there couldn’t have been a cooler way to end the night or the trip.
We had an early wakeup call this last morning to get to the airport, but again, the kids were up to the challenge. As leaders, we are so proud of these kids for coming out here and how they have acted these past two weeks. This trip was pretty difficult at times, but these Cali kids were always up to the challenge. Our bunch was always upbeat and ready for anything! It has been a pleasure being their counselors, and they really did make our job easy these past two weeks. Our last students are flying out right now, and we know we’re going to miss them. We’re excited to stay in touch and want to thank you, parents, for trusting us with your kids these past two weeks. We couldn’t have asked for a better group, and we’re so grateful for Cali C. We love you all so much!
All our best,
Sam, Anna, and Celeste
June 19, 2022
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMARA!!! Yesterday we woke up the crew a little later in the morning to let them sleep in and enjoy our final morning in Yosemite. Blasting some birthday tunes, Sam woke up Amara and the rest of the bunch to some bountiful bagels and a spread of fruit and toppings. We broke down camp and headed out to our final location, Tahoe! After a bit of driving, we stopped to hike the Secret Lake Loop, an awesome, not very well known, trail on our way to our next campsite. Everyone killed it on the uphill sections and Sam, Anna, and I loved getting to see their faces when we reached the top! For lunch, we stopped at the “secret lake” where Harris and Liza headed up a team catching crawdads and showing off their skills. Lunch was enjoyed with our toes in the water and a pep talk from our LODs Amara and Marge for encouragement to the end of the hike! After the end of the loop, about a six mile hike (woohoo!), the bunch was rewarded with capri suns while hopping in the van. The final leg of the van ride was filled with Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, and Chris Stapleton as we enjoyed each other’s company and the sweet views. We then arrived at our awesome Lake Tahoe campsite. The kids set up their tents and learned about bear protocol to be safe in this area! We enjoyed Mac n cheese to celebrate Amara’s birthday (her “favorite food in the entire world”). We then had a dance party, shout out Liza and Harris for teaching us the church clap dance, and Kate and Brie for killing it with their moves. Sam, Celeste, and I even joined in and taught everyone some new moves. The best part of the night, though, was the birthday cookies with candles! When then had a wonderful Moonup to close out the day, and despite the sugar rush everyone quickly fell asleep.
Our day in Lake Tahoe was amazing! The high winds made us change our plans of kayaking, but the crew pivoted like champs, and we went on a guided hike called the Granite Chief Trail. Cooper B, Cooper F, and Frank led the way with gusto, as they chatted with our guide Jill at the head of the line. Beautiful views, some pit stops to learn about the local flora and fauna, and challenging riddles filled our time up to until we arrived at our lunch spot. The crew got to sit on a field of granite overlooking the ski slopes and lifts as we enjoyed our delicious sandwiches and snacks. Our guides informed us about the previous Winter Olympics that were held in Tahoe when there used to be only one ski lift – so cool! After lunch, we continued hiking upwards and through fields of Mule’s Ear plants. We turned around at the halfway point, and Brice and Marge kept us entertained with fun trail games like Snaps and The Traveling Game. We’re so proud of the kids for their positive and cheerful attitudes throughout this hike! It was so awesome to see everyone really get excited about the hike and learning more about the area we were in. After the trail, we surprised the crew with an ice cream stop on the way back to camp, woohoo! Then to end the night off, drumroll please… iron chef competition for dinner! Brie and Frank helped to lead the team in creating an awesome dinner with some special surprise ingredients. Amara, Kate, and Marge were on pasta duty, while Harris and Liza grabbed Sam’s swim goggles to cut the onions and carrots for the veggie sides. Once it was all complete, we had a lovely meal of pasta with red sauce, chicken, veggies, and an egg and bacon side. Moonup was just as special with our LODs Brice and Kate. They chose a quote about seeking out adventure in unlikely places and the group loved getting to discuss their favorite seasons. After a full day, we all fell fast asleep, excited for our last day in Tahoe!
Goodbye Tahoe, hello again Half Moon Bay! Attitude surely has been the difference between an ordeal and an adventure here in Tahoe! Although the crew didn’t get to go paddle boarding today due to weather again, we fortunately got to be back with our awesome guides from yesterday and go on another sweet hike! These kids have been killing it as they have been rolling with the punches and getting everyone excited about any of the activities we get to do! We met our guide at Emerald State Park and did a short hike down to the Rubicon Trail right off Lake Tahoe. The views were super cool and it even started snowing a little bit! We arrived to Tahoe during the first cold front of June and the kids loved the snowflakes. Liza and Brice stuck their tongues out the whole time trying to catch “dip and dot” looking snow into their mouths. Frank, Cooper B, and Cooper F ran into a family of mallard ducks which they named Larry, Barry, and Gary. We all hopped into the van for the drive back to the Bay Area, and Cooper F and Harris were the first to fall asleep for a little nap. With a surprise dinner stop at the famous California In-N-Out, we hit the road for our last stretch with full bellies. Our crew had Moonup on the beach led by Cooper F and Brie, and we’re continuing to soak up our time together these last few days. On to the next fabulous few in Cali!
Talk to you soon!
June 18, 2022
Liza: Hey family! I miss y’all. Happy birthday Dad! Thanks for sending me on Moondance. Tell Bibi and Pops I say hi. I can’t wait to see y’all.
Harris: Hey mom and dad! I’m having a lot of fun at Moondance. Thanks so much for this trip. Excited to see you and can’t wait for Bald Head Island.
Frank: Hey mom and dad and Alice. I miss y’all. I can’t wait to see y’all again. I’m having so much fun in California!
Cooper B: Surfs up fam! I’m Ben shredding the nar on these waves. It’s been a time. Also, Happy Birthday dad! See ya.
Copper F: Hey fam! I know how to solve a rubix cube now! I’m having so much fun and I miss you guys.
Kate: Hey mom and dad and Andrew. California is so much fun! Thank you for letting me go on this trip. Love you.
Amara: Hi! I’m having fun. I miss you and I’m excited to see you. Happy Fathers Day!
Marge: Happy Father’s Day! Love you. Miss you.
Brie: Hey fam miss y’all. I’m having so much fun. Thanks for this trip! Love you.
Brice: Hey fam, I really miss y’all. Having so much fun. Happy Fathers Day. Love you.
June 16, 2022
Good morning from Yosemite Valley! Wow, this place is breathtaking. We’re driving into the park for a guided hike this morning and the kiddos are taking a power nap in the van. We arrived at our awesome campsite last night and ate burritos with fajita veggies, beans, chicken, rice, and guacamole. Dinner was enjoyed by all, and we continued the evening with Moonup led by Amara and Kate. The two asked the question, “what is your biggest fear?” We went around the circle and talked about our fears, past fears, and how we’re overcoming them. Our squad was super honest and vulnerable so kudos to them! The nug jug tonight consisted of nugs to tent poles (as it is pretty windy here), nugs to rafting, and nugs to the Oreo desert. We’re excited for our adventures here in Yosemite!
Yosemite Valley was such a blast! Our guide was super informative, and the kids loved getting to know him throughout the day. We hiked the Mist Trail and the John Muir trail in the valley – a total of 7 miles! Sam, Anna, and I are super proud of the kids for keeping positive attitudes and persevering through those tough uphills. All of their hard work was rewarded with some sweet views of two different waterfalls, a rainbow coming off the water, and some major spray by the waterfall mist as we traveled upward. Cooper F, Cooper B, and Frank led the pack for the day, keeping our pace and positive vibes steady! For lunch, we stopped off trail to enjoy some yummy sandwiches while Amara and Kate sang tunes to keep us all entertained. After lunch, we continued upwards to the John Muir trail where we saw a stunning view of the Half Dome in the sun! The kiddos loved playing “either, or” on the way back down to the trail head where the person at the front of our line would stop and ask people their favorite things. For example, Brie asked everyone if they preferred Chacos or Tevas, and Harris wanted to know who liked cats more than dogs. A head dunk at a natural spring was in line at the very end of the hike, and Brice did some push-ups putting her face in the water! After our exploration of the Yosemite Valley, the kids were tuckered out and enjoyed another power nap while we headed back to camp. Our cook crew for the night, Amara, Liza, and Marge helped to prepare a bountiful dinner of BBQ chicken quesadillas with chips and salsa. With bellies full and lots of laughter, Sam, Anna, and I piled the kids into the van one more time for the day to drive to the neighboring town of Mammoth for a surprise ice cream stop. By the time we got back to camp, ice cream was completely devoured and our LODs Frank and Brie started off our Moonup with a quote and a full nug jug! Their question tapped into our sweet sides when everyone got to go around and say their favorite flowers. Marge’s tulips, Harris’ magnolia, and Brie’s daisies would make for a beautiful bouquet!
The next morning, kids woke up to a breakfast hit! Listening to some early morning sing a longs, the crew enjoyed breakfast sandwiches: English muffins, egg, cheese, and Canadian bacon. Once breakfast was over, we loaded up to head back into Yosemite for some rock climbing. Our awesome guides taught us the safety lessons including how to tie ourselves in with the figure eight knot, how to belay, and how to climb, of course! The crew killed it! Cooper B was the first up the rock face with Cooper F coming second. Their excitement for climbing was contagious and others bought into being brave and climbing up a big rock, even for the first time. The trio of Amara, Brie and Marge kept us in high spirits as they sang while belaying each other. It was super awesome to see the kids learning how to work together, trust each other, and problem solve. Liza and Harris kept us laughing by switching off between their super southern and then British accents. After we wrapped up climbing, we headed back to camp to hang out at the coolest lake by our site. The kids played whiffle ball on the lake’s beach and swam in the chilly water. We’ve been amazed by the weather here in Northern Cal. It’s 35 degrees in the morning and almost 80 in the afternoon! Later, our bunch made personal pizzas with pita bread, red sauce, and toppings of their choosing for dinner. Cooper F and Frank cooked up the pizzas by making a make-shift pizza oven with an extra pan on top of the griddle. Anna made brownies for dessert, and we ended the night with a great Moonup and reflection at the end to look up at the stars. Brie pointed out the Big Dipper and other constellations. A wonderful day in Yosemite!
Today was an awesome day! It was day two of climbing for our bunch, and spirits were high. Since we had all learned how to belay yesterday, the group quickly roped in, and we all tried our hands at crack climbing (where the climber puts their hands and feet in a crack running the whole face of the rock and inches upwards) on faces as hard as 5.10 on the Yosemite decimal system. Harris and Liza belayed Sam (which is pretty impressive considering the weight difference!) and Kate got to the top of a 5.9 route to the cheers of our outfitters and the rest of the group! The faces were harder than the first day, and a lot of us were a little freaked out by the sheerness of the rocks we were climbing on, but everybody persevered, and by the end of the day, every route had been conquered. After climbing we piled back in the van, hit up a gift shop for the first time this trip, and made our way back to camp. Everyone got some sweet treats, and with some sugar (just a little bit!) in our systems, we went to the beach and played for hours. Brice helped the leaders cook and clean a special breakfast for dinner, and then pointed out satellites and shooting stars in the sky. With a long day over, everyone did one last climb to the tents and fell asleep exhausted and happy. Tomorrow, we go to Lake Tahoe… we can’t wait!
June 13, 2022
Things are going swimmingly here in California! We woke up this morning and enjoyed a yummy breakfast before getting ready to go raft. Brie and Marge (Sarah Margaret) started us off great by showing us how to paddle on our log at the campsite. They then set the tune by harmonizing in the car. The singing continued once we arrived at our rafting location…our guides were impressed. Our LODs, Brice and Harris, encouraged everybody and kept us upbeat as our family of thirteen split into two rafts for the day. The all-girls raft, which the bunch named “material girl,” served as the sweep boat for the day, saving other boats which had gotten stuck on rocks. Our other boat, which was dubbed “Nessie,” initiated quite a few splash fights, and Cooper F was the quickest to claim victory almost every time. A few members of our group decided to give the rapid, “swimmer’s rapid,” its due, and Frank led our swimmers through the currents to the bottom to meet our guides. They were greeted with an approval and cheers! Once we got back to camp everyone showered (which they were super excited about). The bunch played Poison Dart Frog and Mafia while enjoying the Arnold Palmer drinks our awesome guides made. Dinner was prepared by the guides as well, and it was a hit. We ate pasta, salad, bread, and a pound cake and fruit desert. Liza and Cooper F walked down to see the trout jumping in the moonlight, and the group ended the night together by sharing what the most exciting times of our lives have been so far. The answers ranged from this Moondance trip in California to getting a puppy for the first time. Awesome first day of rafting for our bunch! Big paddle high-five to rafting on the American River!
Day two of rafting started with an early morning breakfast of croissants, sausage, and eggs prepared by the guides we met yesterday. Kate took everybody’s plates (showing some great EB!) after the meal, and after we had packed up camp, our group headed back to our outfitter base. We bussed up to our start location after we put on some splash guards for the cloudy and drizzly weather and put our rafts into the water. It was cold, but Cooper B loved it, and kept telling the rapids to “bring it on,” even when the water was splashing everywhere on our class three rapids. At lunch, we stopped on the riverbank for sandwiches and tried our hands at each other’s riddles. Kate and Amara were quiet with them at first, but both figured out the leader’s pineapple game before anybody else. Cooper B demonstrated his stick game riddle, and we hit the river again for our last big rapid, “troublemaker!” Everyone killed it. As we paddled in to finish up, Sam tried to throw the other boat the GoPro but it fell in the water. Amara dove in and grabbed it though and it made for a great video! After we finished rafting, everybody changed into dry clothes and piled into the van to go to Yosemite for the next part of our trip. Cali dreaming out here! On to hiking and rock climbing for the next few days. We can’t say it enough, we have a great bunch here with us!
Celeste, Anna and Sam
June 11, 2022
Hello from sunny California!
Sam, Anna, and I were so excited on Wednesday to pick up the kids from the airport we could barely sleep. With Liza and Harris arriving first, and Amara and Kate flying in to complete our group, we finally loaded our big happy family in the van and headed off to our first campsite up north. Our first task was to name our van and uHaul: Brice came up with Matilda, while Cooper B and Cooper F were more in favor of “The Big Thing with Wheels and all our Duffels.” Once we arrived at our campsite, we loaded our bellies with pizza, the perfect fuel to set up our tents and make our campsite feel like home. Once settled, we cozied in for our first Moonup of the trip. Moonup is a special time here at Moondance. Every night we take the opportunity to reflect on the amazing day we just had, get the know each other better, and practice leadership skills. The first Moonup was a success and we gathered to answer the questions: what is something you are excited about for this trip and what do you want to learn from this trip? Answers varied from learning how to rock climb (shoutout Frank), working on surfing skills (shoutout Brie and Marge), and so much more. We opened the nug jug which consisted of shoutouts to gaining independence on plane rides, awesome music in the van, Oreos for dessert, and an Eno city behind the tents. Our Cali C family is settling right in and doing so well!
After sleeping in a bit (with the exception of Cooper F, Cooper B, and Frank still on eastern time), we started the day with a killer breakfast thoroughly enjoyed after a cozy night in our sleeping bags. We devoured chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, bacon, and fruit, and started our morning huddle to discuss the day to come. Our very first LODs (leaders of the day), Frank and Liza, helped us decide what things we would need for the day and led the pack in the sandwich-making process for lunch. We loaded up in the van, and headed to our first hiking spot! Our group did a quick warm up hike, then headed to the light house at Point Reyes National Park to explore and eat lunch. Even though the point was foggy, we applaud the group for their steadfast positivity and eagerness to see new places! We had a bit of a drive to the next campsite, and the kiddos continued this upward trend as we played Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night (requested heavily by Amara) and Taylor Swift songs on repeat. Harris was the sous chef for the night, grilling up some hot dogs and burgers for our cookout. With some sleepy kiddos, Moonup was the close to the night as we went around telling our favorite things about our hometown, and then celebrated our next two LODs, Marge and Cooper F!
Thursday was another early morning for our group as everyone was excited for today’s activity: surfing! Both Coopers and Harris helped make the eggs, bacon, and cinnamon biscuits. While they were cooking, the whole group ate the container of green grapes even before breakfast was served! Everyone fueled up for a day of fun and afterwards Harris taught the group how to play Poison Dart Frog. Marge acted as the dark frog for a bit and stole the show. After a few rounds of games, Cooper B and Sam decided to polar plunge into the Pacific right next to our campsite. They came back just a tad chilly but Cooper still had a smile on his face! Our LODs, Marge and Cooper F, helped rally the group to get excited for our surfing spot for two days. Our awesome surf instructors taught safety, passed out wet suits, and then our group quickly jumped in. Brie and Brice led the crowd out with eagerness despite the chilly water. Everyone got up! It was so awesome to see the groups energy and eagerness to hop into the activity and continue to get back on the boards after falling off. After surfing, the group headed to Lands End for some exploring where we saw some awesome overlooks and a pretty sweet view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Dinner tonight was prepared by our lovely cook crew of Frank, Brice, Kate, and Amara. A feast of pasta, garlic bread, and broccoli and tomatoes were thoroughly enjoyed by all. Liza even compared the dinner to something of a “five star restaurant.” We then gathered for Moonup to talk about some of the coolest places we’ve ever been and enjoyed a surprise cookie treat from our LODs!
Friday was our second and last day of shredding the waves at Pacifica Beach! The crew was outstanding with their positive attitudes in the freezing cold water and choppy waves! Amara and Kate stayed in the water the whole time, trying to catch waves together. The boys took a break from the chilly water and skim boarded their way to victory. Harris and Liza then joined the boys on the beach to make the biggest and best drippy castles in the sand. Brie and Marge stayed out the entire lesson, perfecting their surfing skills, and Brice was killing it as well, even being able to head out further into the ocean with one of the guides to catch some bigger waves! After surfing, our crew loaded up and headed to our next campsite! With a bit of a long drive as we headed inland to the American River, Liza kept the attitude in the van upbeat and cheerful, as she and Frank cracked jokes for the whole group and made the journey fly by! We broke up our drive with a surprise pizza dinner! After our drive the kiddos were ready to sleep as we arrived at our awesome new campsite, ready for our next adventure!
This trip and group are unmatched. We are so pumped for the amazing views, activities, and memories ahead.
— Celeste, Sam and Anna
June 7, 2022
Hello California Families,
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in San Francisco. 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!