July 6, 2022
Hello from Half Moon Bay! We hope this update finds you well. The twelve of us are having an incredible time exploring California, and we seriously cannot believe our trip is coming to a close in a few short days. It has flown by because of this group’s unique ability to pack FUN into every tiny corner of this experience. They are enthusiastic in their approach to each new activity we do, which is like a primer for having the best time. They were especially so for white water rafting (we talked about how we couldn’t raft since probably day 3) and it made all the difference!
On Independence Day Eve, we enjoyed a slow, restful morning before our whirlwind of a whitewater rafting adventure began. After meeting our guides for the day, we got our life jackets and helmets on and divided into raft groups. Henry took the boys + McCall and Charlotte in one raft, while I (Grace) had the rest of the girls! It’ll come as no surprise that McCall and Charlotte didn’t hesitate for a second, and they did a fantastic job all day long. We rafted the lower portion of the American River, which began with Class 2 rapids that faded perfectly into Class 3s once we were into the swing of things. AC and Lauren headed up the front of my boat, where they beautifully tackled the rapids head-on thanks to their previous rafting experiences out west. Ryan and Thomas jumped in every time they had the chance, despite the fact that they were shivering from the cold water! We saw the day as a great success, because nobody “swam” (what the raft guides like to say if someone falls in), and everyone had fun while also getting out of our comfort zones! That evening, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner prepped by the raft guides, including steak, grilled chicken, pasta, and salad. We were all pretty worn out from our day on the water, so we were especially appreciative of this meal. The kids spent a lot of the evening exploring Camp Lotus, where they started up a conversation with a girl there about her hobby of fire dancing performances. So, after Moonup, she set up outside our campsite and did an incredibly impressive performance for our group and our campsite neighbors! It was quite the nightcap.
The next morning started off Bronson’s birthday/4th of July! We were lucky to have breakfast sandwiches prepared by the raft guides for breakfast, and the girls got decked out in red, white, and blue glitter to rock on the river, thanks to McCall! Day two of rafting takes place on the upper section of the American, where we started off the day strong with Class 3 rapids, before having a more relaxed paddle after lunch. The very first rapid of the day was called Meat Grinder, so you can probably guess that we were dialed into our paddling right away! All the kids did a great job getting through the exciting Class 3 rapids and keeping a positive attitude throughout. We finished off with the daunting whirlpool-like troublemaker rapid just before lunch, which Lauren absolutely loved and said she wished went on for longer! After each rapid, the group reliably erupted into laughter and energetic recaps of what happened. The excitement for it all was truly contagious and made the rafting experience so memorable.
After lunch, the water settled down and the Fourth of July water guns came out. The kids took every opportunity to surprise-attack the other boat! They made the flat water just as fun as the rapids by water fighting, jumping in, and swimming alongside the rafts. Sadly, Emmy injured her finger while getting in the water, but, in true Emmy fashion, she kept a smile on her face the whole time. She is just the best and we are so impressed by her strength and maturity! Our rafting experience wrapped up with cold drinks at the end to celebrate our successes against the rapids. We piled into the van and got on the road to Olema, during which we stopped for the highly anticipated In-N-Out stop! Caroline vlogged our experience there and had a great time enjoying the quintessential California dinner (made even better than it was on the fourth of July). After dinner, we found ourselves having an impromptu dance party in the parking lot, where Emmy and Hannah led everyone in the Cotton-Eyed Joe and the Church Clap! Then, we sang happy birthday over some cookies and donuts for Bronson’s birthday. He blew out his candles, excited to have some of his favorite chocolate M&M cookies. We always appreciate Bronson for being polite, appreciative, and kind, but we felt really lucky to get to celebrate his birthday on Moondance. We think he had a super memorable birthday! Post-dessert, spirits were high and bellies SO full. We finished up the drive through the stunning rolling hills of Marin county as the night wound down. By the time we arrived at camp, we had run out of steam and were ready to get to bed as soon as possible for our early-morning commute to go surfing! We’ll touch base tomorrow with an update on how everything goes. We can’t believe we have to say bye to this group, but we want to thank you for all you’ve done to get them here.
Henry and Grace
July 5, 2022
Hi everyone, it’s Grace and Henry!
Reflecting on the past couple of days, we are feeling super thankful for the time we have gotten to spend with your kids and for the memories we have created along the way. They are a fantastic group of individuals, and we are so proud of how far they have come over such a short time!
We woke up on Thursday morning SO excited for our first day on Lake Tahoe. After breakfast, we drove up to the North Shore, where we met our awesome guides for the day, got life jackets, and hopped in our tandem kayaks to set off to explore the shoreline for the next few hours! As we paddled along, our guides told us some fun facts about the lake, like that part of the new Top Gun movie was filmed there. We all loved paddling over the waves created by powerboats on the lake, and Bronson especially wished the beautiful glassy water was choppier for this reason! The kids chatted with their kayak partners and splashed other duos as we made our way to our first stop at the popular King’s Beach. We pulled up on shore for a break including snacks, vlogs, and some rock skipping for Bronson, Thomas, and Ryan. Once we hopped back in our kayaks, our second stop was to check out a wrecked sailboat just off the shore. Our third and final stop was on a quaint little beach. At this point in the day, many of us had warmed up in the sun to the point that we were finally ready for a dip in the freezing Tahoe water. Hannah and McCall led the charge to take the polar plunge and eventually convinced sweet Emmy to get in, too. It makes us super happy whenever the kids take opportunities to get in the water, even when it’s cold! Overall, kayaking was a fantastic morning activity, and we wrapped it up by stopping at the cutest little ice cream shop for milkshakes and scoops galore. Then, we headed back to our campsite for an early dinner of pizzadillas and salad, crafted by an incredible cook crew of Hannah, Lauren, and Ryan. Ryan insisted on making everyone else dinner before he sat down to enjoy a ‘dilla for himself! We wrapped up the night by watching the sunset over Tahoe on a beautiful pebble beach, where we got some nice photos, skipped some stones (shoutout to AC for helping everyone look for the flattest rocks), and held Moonup.
We started the next morning by adding hot chocolates to our breakfast spread because mornings are pretty chilly up at Lake Tahoe. We then set off for a group favorite: paddle boarding!! The start of our time on the water was full of splashing around and pushing one another off of our boards, but, soon enough, everyone realized we were in need of some nice chill time on the lake. Many of us napped, and others just enjoyed the views. It was the perfect relaxing afternoon, which was just what we all needed. We then went to shore for lunch in the shade before heading to our new campground. After setting up camp, we piled into the van and went into a sweet little California mountain town call Truckee for our town day. We all had the best time exploring the cowboy-esque downtown street, where the kids got some California gear and of course some treats. As we were walking down the street to head home, we came across an older couple playing the piano on the sidewalk. This immediately caught the group’s attention, so they walked up to introduce themselves and request some songs! Soon enough, we found ourselves singing along to Moondance by Van Morrison and Our Song by Taylor Swift while passersby smiled at the group. It was such a fun and serendipitous moment.
To wrap up this already fantastic day, we decided to take the kids back to one of the beaches we stopped at during our kayak tour, King’s Beach, for a local sunset music event. When we arrived, we all plopped down on the sand, excited for the band to come out and start playing. The two of us were slightly nervous that the kids would not like the music, or that they would’ve rather stayed at the campsite for the night. Our nerves suddenly eased after the kids noticed some folks making their way to the front to dance by the band, and Hannah asked us if they were allowed to dance. We told them that they could of course dance, and we followed them to the front, knowing from right then we were in for a fantastic night! The next couple of hours on the beach were full of smiles and laughs as the entire group danced to bluesy covers as the sun went down. Caroline had the biggest smile on her face the whole night as she grabbed her friends’ hands to dance with them! It was a true highlight of the trip, and it was all thanks to the kids’ enthusiasm for finding fun in every moment presented to them.
The next morning, we got to sleep in and enjoy a filling breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes, turkey sausage, and Canadian bacon (a newfound group favorite). We hit the road toward the American River and took a perfect Target pit-stop, where Grace and Charlotte had a great time getting to hang out while doing a dressing room fashion show of some lovely new pieces. We soon got settled in at our new campsite and spent the evening exploring what has been many of the kids’ favorite site so far. From ping pong tables and badminton to river views and hilarious neighbors, this place is incredible! We again are just feeling so fortunate for this California experience, and especially for the kind, funny, genuine, and bold group of individuals it has brought to us. A huge thanks to y’all for sharing your kids with us- you raised some good ones.
Until next time,
Grace and Henry
And here are some thank yous from them to you!
Emmy: I’m having so much fun. Thank you for sending me on this trip! Miss all of you! <3
McCall: Thank you so much for sending me!! I love it here <3
Thomas: Thank you for sending me on this trip I’m having such a fun time
Charlotte: Thank you for sending me on this trip it’s so fun!
Bronson: Thanks so much it is so much fun. Love you
AC: I love you so much! Thank you for everything and for letting me go to Kendra Scott with Taylor! You’re the best!
Ryan: Thank you for being the best mom ever and being there for me when we have hard times. Love you
Caroline Love y’all! Thank you for letting me come on this trip!! It is so fun!!
Hannah: having so much fun. Thank y’all for letting me come on this trip!!
Lauren: Thank you so much for letting me come on Moondance! I’m having so much fun! Love y’all!
July 2, 2022
We had a blast trekking and climbing our way through the stunning Yosemite National Park, and are thrilled to tell you all about it. On Monday morning, we got up early with both excitement and nerves for our first day in the birthplace of climbing as we know it today. Our guides zeroed in on the prominent Pothole Dome as a great place for us to start, and after getting fitted for shoes we set off that way. Once we arrived at our slab of granite for the day, rather than simply setting up ropes from the base of the wall, our guides had the crew hike to the top of the dome and rappel down to start! At the top, the view was spectacular, and by seeing its dimply surface one could quickly understand the origin of the dome’s name. While some were a bit hesitant to lower themselves down, Bronson fearlessly volunteered and zipped down the line. Others shortly followed, and we were then ready to start going up the wall instead. As soon as our guides had top ropes set, AC was the first to jump on belay and shot up her first route with no problems at all. She proved to be a natural in the harness both this first day and the next. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the group split off into climbing teams and began their ascents as well. While some were initially stumped by some of the steeper, more challenging pitches, our favorite parts of the day were by far watching our young climbers redeem themselves on second and third attempts.
After a much-needed lunch, techniques had noticeably improved, confidence at higher altitudes had grown, and by the end of the day, we were fully ready to strap in for a more technical day of crack climbing at Puppy Dome the next morning.
It was just a short walk to our second climbing site, which had a view of some stunning domes and pointy peaks in the distance. Once our guides set up a variety of routes on the wall, the kids excitedly geared up to get going. Throughout the day, whenever someone wanted to go up the wall, McCall was quick to offer belay them. It was really awesome watching all the kids support one another and push themselves out of their comfort zone while rock climbing. Thomas and Lauren both brought so much light to the group by laughing their way through their climbs, while Ryan shaped his climbing throughout the day by revisiting tricky climbs. What impressed us most of all was seeing members of our group becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable while climbing. For example, Charlotte started the day off with a tricky climb that included scaling the base of a tree. She was unable to get through the climb that first time, but she revisited and conquered the route later in the day!
In addition to actively climbing, a big part of the day was our time hanging out at the base of the wall, where we got to talk, eat, and practice playing Henry’s newly-introduced and always-favorite group game: Big Booty. Hannah and Caroline are now obsessed with the game and are always up to play it everywhere we go! After a few hours at Puppy Dome, we headed back to our campsite, but not before a highly-anticipated ice cream shop. We then took some well earned showers and enjoyed an absolute feast of Southwest Mac N Cheese cooked up by Emmy, Thomas, and AC. We wrapped up the night with one of our favorite things in the world: sleeping under the stars. In all honesty, we ditched our tents due to some super windy conditions, but the unfortunate weather created a truly special experience for all of us.
Our Hump Day sunrise wakeup was well worth it, because we were able to hop on the road to Yosemite Valley! We had the best time exploring the park, looking up at the majestic peaks, swimming in a swimming hole, and just enjoying each others’ company. We felt so incredibly fortunate to be in such an awe-inspiring place that it was really hard to get in the car to head to Lake Tahoe! Our long car ride felt short thanks to some incredible car karaoke and a stop at the one of the coolest gas station/souvenir shops we have ever seen.
We have absolutely loved our time with y’all’s kiddos thus far and just want to give a huge shoutout to y’all for sending them on Moondance. Over their short time in California, they have already grown independently and together, and we are excited for y’all to get to hear these stories firsthand in just a week!
Here are some shoutouts from your kids:
Ryan: I love you and I miss you!
Bronson: Love you guys.
Thomas: I love you mommy and daddy.
McCall: I’m having so much fun. I love y’all!
Emmy: Miss all of you so much. I’m having a lot of fun! Love you.
Hannah: Love and miss y’all, see you soon
Charlotte: Miss y’all so much I’m having so much fun.
Caroline: miss y’all <3
AC: I love you and miss you! See you in a week!
Lauren: Love y’all and can’t wait to see y’all soon!
Henry and Grace
June 27, 2022
We hope this trip update finds y’all well. We have officially kicked off the California 2A trip and can happily say we are having a fantastic time making the most of the west coast! This crew impressed us so much on Friday by sticking it out for quite a few hours in the SFO baggage claim, waiting for everyone’s flight to get in so we could gather as a full group. We loved watching them grow closer during their time in the Delta baggage claim, demonstrating that it’s not where you are, but who you’re with! We noticed early on that McCall and Bronson are always willing to lend a helping hand, and that has not faltered for either of them since then! From the airport, we headed straight to the Golden Gate Bridge, where we had a pizza picnic by the water! We snapped some pictures with the foggy view of the bridge, caught some football passes from Thomas, and shared lots of laughs and smiles. We then got to take the most stunning drive through the rolling hills and mountains just north of the bridge. Upon arriving at our second campsite, we held our first ever nightly Moonup, where we all shared what about the trip we were most excited for. We found some common ground about our hope for the development of new friendships while doing some truly incredible activities.
Still on east coast time, the kiddos woke up with (or maybe even before) the sun on Saturday morning. We kicked it all off with a big breakfast (huge shoutout to Bronson for cracking 24 eggs) and a nice morning meeting. We then headed off for a 5-mile hike in Point Reyes National Seashore, which had some steep inclines and beautiful scenery. Anna Claire impressed us throughout the hike by keeping both the positivity and pace up! We got some help from our first leaders of the day, Ryan and Charlotte, in managing group water breaks and helping with morale. We had lunch at the top of the hike, and later celebrated all we accomplished at the end. We then headed down the road to Half Moon Bay, where the kids circled up on the beach and enjoyed such a special place with their new friends. Emmy told us this was her favorite moment of the trip so far, simply sitting and enjoying her new friends’ company.
The next morning we hastily packed up camp and started our journey toward our next campsite near Mammoth Lakes. Just before hitting the highway though, we stopped off outside San Francisco at Land’s End for a tasty muffin breakfast by the foggy coastline. With full bellies, we set off on a lengthy drive that felt like an activity in and of itself with Hannah keeping the conversations moving, and always singing along to whatever song was playing. She said she loved long car rides, and we finally saw what she meant now! After a couple of stops and a couple hundred miles, the hills turned to mountains and we were soon at our new home for the next few nights. Upon arrival, we shot tents up quickly, and darted for nearby June Lake to use the last bit of sunlight for a scenic dinner by the water. After a quick dip in the chilly water, Lauren, Bronson, and Caroline served up a delicious beachfront dinner as our first cook crew. We then shared some big laughs over hot dogs and an outstanding Caesar salad appetizer, while the sun set over the Sierra Nevadas behind us. We capped the day with a Moonup that was both silly and thoughtful at times, and a joy all the way through. As the night’s chill approached, we retreated to our tents to get some much needed rest for a big day of climbing in Yosemite. We’ve had so much fun already, and we’ve barely even begun. We’ll be checking in again soon with so much more to report, stay tuned!
Grace and Henry
June 25, 2022
Hello California Families,
We heard from our leaders yesterday 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!