July 24, 2022
Hello from the airport!
What a phenomenal last few day it has been with this group of kids. After we finished rafting at Camp Lotus, we loaded up into our van and headed to Camp Olema. While in the car, Bridget and Natalie again led us in singing some songs as loudly as we could and had us jamming out when we pulled into our surprise stop for the night… In n Out! Our crew got lots of t-shirts and James kept us entertained with his riddles and jokes while we ate. After a full meal, we finished up the last bit of our drive and started setting up camp. It was a beautiful night, and Holden and Reid were balls of energy running around and making jokes. As we settled in for the night our group started getting a bit sentimental about the time we had out here. At Moonup, Natalie, one of our LODs of the day, made us all smile with a sincere and sweet quote she had picked. Feeling grateful for the day and the weeks, we all went to bed with the attitude of making our last two days count.
In the morning, we made chocolate chip pancakes, the kids’ favorite. Warren ate five, and I think a lot of our crew was close behind! After breakfast, we drove to Point Reyes! It is a beautiful seashore, and our group did the Chimney Rock Trail which goes along a cliffside beach. Our crew is sometimes hesitant about hiking, but they really leaned into this one, with Fin continuously exclaiming how pretty the hike was and how good the breeze felt as we walked. Reese, Emilia, Bridget, and Natalie got some great pictures at the peak in their In n Out t-shirts, and after the walk back, we drove to Inverness Market where we had a great lunch in the sunshine. Neely finally got to get her capers, and we all enjoyed a leisurely lunch. After that, our group drove to Stinson beach. Holden and Fin dug a huge hole (so that they could relax in it supposedly), and Hallsie, Neely, and Sloane buried Sam in the sand and popped seaweed in each other’s ears! It was a fun afternoon, but when we got back to the campsite, we had one more surprise… Iron Chef! Two teams were pitted against each other, and the dishes were delicious. On one side, Neely, Hallsie, Fin, and the rest of their team created chicken pasta with fried brown sugar apples as a dessert. On the other, Emilia, Warren, Reese, Bridget, and the rest of their team put together hot dogs and fried Milano cookies. All the food was delicious, and in the end, the competition was determined to be a tie. After a phenomenal Moonup, Emilia told more of her ghost stories, and we all fell asleep ready to get after the last full day of our adventure.
When we woke up, we skipped breakfast at the campsite. After packing up tents and duffels, we headed to yet another surprise, donuts in San Rafael! They were delicious and we all headed to our last campsite at Francis Beach happy and full. We had a bit of paperwork and cleaning to do when we arrived, but our crew was diligent and thoughtful in their work… we leaders are really appreciative of that. After we finished, we loaded back up in the van for our last night together. Before anything, we went to Goodwill to get clothes for our banquet!! The theme was funky town, and this group really went after it. Reid found a Paw Patrol toy car, and along with his pit vipers, he had quite the look. Not to be outdone, Emilia found some awesome glasses and pajama bottoms, James found a funky Hawaiian shirt, and Neely created a “safari guide on a zoom call” costume. Ready for the night, we visited the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a foggy day, and though we didn’t get to explore as much as we would have liked, our group had a lot of fun, especially with our new addition of the toy car. We loaded back up in the van one last time and headed to our final dinner, Mexican!! Dressed to the nines, we had an awesome last dinner together, and Sloan helped the leaders out a ton by helping clean up when we were all finished eating. Back at our campsite, we had a wonderful final moonup led by Reid and Hallsie. With thoughtful answers and a lot of laughs, we fell asleep.
We had an eventful and hard morning on this airport day, but our group was up to all the challenges. We are so proud of this group for how they have handled adversity, and we are so proud to have been their leaders out here in California these past two weeks. It has been a privilege to lead every single one of them. Thanks for a great two weeks!
Your children will be home so soon & we cannot wait for them to tell you all stories!
Celeste, Sam and Anna
July 22, 2022
Hello to the American River!
We are super pumped to be able to get out on the River this morning and hit some rapids! The kids got to sleep in the latest they had yet and enjoy a leisurely breakfast of hashbrowns, eggs, and fruit! We were so grateful to be able to head out onto the water today – we all hopped into some inflatable kayaks and made our way down the upper portion of the South Fork on the American River. The kids had such a blast getting to go down some rapids in their boats of two, weaving and snaking in between rocks and through the middle of the river. Reese and Bridget kept the group energized with their high enthusiasm and constant smiles during the day. Warren and Reid led the group at the front, always going down rapids first and killing it! At one point, I turned around to see Fin and Holden stuck on one rock, using their bodies and back paddling skills to maneuver the shallow water. We stopped for lunch to have a wonderful spread of deli meat, fresh veggies, and the option of PB and jelly, too! With full bellies of watermelon, sandwiches, and chips, we continued to paddle and eventually landed at the shore of our campsite. We then had a bit of free time before dinner! James, Warren, Reid, Fin, and Holden skipped rocks by the river and hung out. All of the girls took showers and then went to the camp store for some treats! Reese got a classic California “It’s It” frozen chocolate cookie sandwich. Sloane got a cool sticker for her family, and others got t-shirts, treats, and more! For dinner, our guides prepared a delicious meal of pesto pasta and marinara pasta with veggies, grilled chicken, steak, and bread. For dessert, pound cake with berries and whip cream. Neely and Hallsie tried to flip the whipped cream in their mouth from their hand. So funny! And the entire meal was delicious! After dinner a game of frisbee was played. Natalie was the master frisbee catcher with Emilia next. Moonup, led by Fin and Emilia, was silly and lighthearted. The awesome, action-packed day ended with ghost stories shoutout Emilia and James! Check in tomorrow for day two on the American River.
Paddle high fives to an awesome day in the American River rafting today!! Our crew woke up, packed up camp, and enjoyed a yummy breakfast of eggs and sausage croissant sandwiches with fruit and coffee cake! Some hot chocolate was devoured, too! We then said goodbye to our favorite campsite, Camp Lotus, to drive down the road to All Outdoors rafting. Our guides, Dakota and Trinity, were pumped for an awesome day of rafting and loved our group’s energy. We really brought the PVO, positive vibes only, and truly started LITMO-ing, living in the moment. Our bunch split into two rafts of boys and girls. However, Sam was with the girls and Celeste and I were with the boys. The boys kept us laughing the entire time! Reese and Emilia led the girls’ raft at the front while Holden and Warren led the other. The leaders were vital to the activity and super awesome at setting the tone and pace for the rest of the raft. Our first rapid of the day was a class three called “Meat Grinder.” Reid, Warren, and Holden loved the name! During our first swim break, the first ones in the water were Fin, James, Bridget, and Hallsie. The rest weren’t very far behind! We splished and splashed all morning to cool off from the 90+ degree weather. We then stopped to have a delicious lunch of sandwiches, watermelon, chips, and cookies again. After lunch, Fin led the boys’ boat while Natalie, Sloane, Reese, and Neely took turns leading as well. It was a blast! We’ve had such great days on the South Fork of the American. Now on to exploring Point Reyes. We’re soaking up every minute with your sweet, goofy, and amazing kiddos. We seriously love them so much. Everyone is doing well! Talk soon!
Anna, Celeste, and Sam
July 19, 2022
Good morning Tahoe! What a beautiful day!
Today the kiddos got to sleep in a bit before waking up to hashbrowns, bacon, yogurt, and fruit. Once we changed into our swimsuits, we were off to the races! We piled into the van and headed off to North Lake Tahoe to enjoy some kayaking this morning. The lake was looking especially clear and blue today, without a cloud in the sky! Our crew embarked out onto the lake with our two guides to help us explore and learn more about the lake itself. Emilia and Reese took the lead, setting the tone with their infectious laughter and excitement to kayak out further. Our guides made sure there were plenty of times to swim, which definitely made James happy. He made sure everyone else got to enjoy the chilly water, too! With fun games like rafting up and connecting all our kayaks together, playing tag in the water, and racing to the guides, the kids had a blast out on Tahoe for the first time. By the time we got back to shore, the crew was pretty tired, and we enjoyed lunch out in the sun before taking one last dip in the water. The afternoon was a perfect end to the day! We headed to a local fro yo and ice cream place to enjoy some treats before one last exploration of Emerald Bay up to the top to enjoy the views! We then headed back to our campsite to start preparing dinner. Neely, Hallsie, and Sloane led cook crew for the night. Their enthusiasm for cooking was awesome! We all enjoyed their meal pad Thai with chicken, broccoli, and watermelon on the side. Sloane made sure to get the peanut sauce down just right, too! Moonup was amazing, as we enjoyed closing up the day down by the water at sunset. The crew loved answering the question, what’s been your favorite part of the trip so far? Overwhelmingly, the kids loved getting to sing together in the car. We’re super excited for our final day at Tahoe, talk to y’all tomorrow!
Today we spent our final morning in Tahoe on the lake paddle boarding! We woke the crew up to a feast of pancakes, bacon, and fruit to fill everyone up in preparation for some paddling. The kids broke down tents and then we piled into the van. The group was sad to say goodbye to our lakeside campsite, but we’re all pretty pumped to drive to our rafting spot on the American River later in the afternoon! Once we arrived at North Lake Tahoe, everyone was super excited to get out on the water. Sunscreen layered on and smiles across the board, we were ready to set out onto the lake! Holden led the way, with the others not far behind. Warren and Reid then led a pirate attack on most every paddle board as they scavenged for other paddles to grab hold to. Meanwhile, Fin showed some great Exhibition Behavior, grabbing loose paddles and boards that strayed away during those surprise pirate attacks! Others settled down, like Bridget and Natalie, who enjoyed some good vitamin D and soaking up those rays before we had to jump back in the van. We’re on our way now to our next campsite, talk to y’all after rafting!
Anna, Celeste and Sam
July 18, 2022
Good morning Yosemite!
After the kids had a good rest at our new campsite, they woke up to a feast of eggs, bagels, hashbrowns, and bacon in preparation for a busy day of hiking in Yosemite valley. We packed for the day and jumped back into the van to start the journey into the park. The drive was beautiful! With views of El Cap and Half Dome, it was easy to lose track of time and arrive swiftly right in the middle of the valley. The hike we did today was called Mirror Lake, with a final destination of two small lakes and some great scenic views! Holden and James led the pack, with Reese bringing up the rear as she tried to find the perfect walking stick to accompany her. When we arrived at the lake, Emilia, Natalie, and Hallsie were the first to dive into the chilly water. Everyone else followed them not long after! The crew had such an awesome time at Mirror Lake, and we were sad to say goodbye when it was time to head back to our campsite, but not before stopping off at the park store for snacks and souvenirs. Once we arrived back at camp, we had a delicious dinner of pasta, with red sauce or pesto, and chicken. Emilia helped to clean up with the leaders while everyone else got ready for bed before moonup. The questions included our favorite despicable me movie and what we wanted to be when we grew up. Bridget wants to be an interior designer, Sloane wants to be an anesthesiologist, and Holden wants to follow in his dad’s footsteps with finance! We’re also pumped for our LODs tomorrow, Warren and Reese!
What an awesome day yesterday was in Yosemite! We woke up pretty early to meet our guides in the park. We met them at “Puppy Dome” which was our climbing area for the day. Super fun place to climb with varying levels of climbing which was perfect for our group! After our guides Nick and Drew gave us a thorough safety lesson, including a figure eight tying competition, everyone harnessed up and got ready to climb! Neely was our first one up the dome and she killed it! She set the tone and our bunch that rock climbing isn’t as scary as it seemed. We were really proud of all the kids for giving climbing a try, even if it was out of their comfort zones. Some even learned that they loved climbing such as Hallsie and Fin—pros in no time! Reid sped up all of the rope routes multiple times along with James! Holden and Reese pushed themselves despite being a bit timid of rock climbing. It was seriously an awesome day of trying new things! On the way back to our campsite we took a surprise pit stop to get ice cream before coming back to Mammoth to hang out until dinner. Dinner was a cookout with Mac n cheese, hot dogs, watermelon, and more! James helped make the Mac and everyone else enjoyed dinner. Moonup, led by our awesome and energetic LODs, Reese and Warren, was amazing! Nugs were given to Emilia’s positivity and singing in the car, the game of Ghost in the Graveyard led by Reid and Fin, and the ice cream stop! We talked about our favorite restaurants and dream countries to travel to and why during moonup. Then, with full bellies and happy children we all went to sleep under the stars. Can’t wait for climbing again tomorrow!
We then travelled to Yosemite from Mammoth right now and enjoying some tunes in the car. After a quick breakfast of oatmeal with brown sugar, Nutella, peanut butter, and lots of fruit, we piled in the van to get to the park early. It’s a gorgeous day today—blue skies and not a cloud in the sky. Rock climbing was a blast! James was the first on the rocks and the last to get off. Reese, Holden, and Emilia pushed themselves, too! Climbing was different today than yesterday. We traveled to a new place today, called D.U.F.F. dome, and it was awesome! The hike up was a little long and a little steep, but once we got up there our group got to it quickly. Fin and Warren were expert belayers, and anytime anyone needed a partner to climb, they were among the first to volunteer. Hallsie and Holden tried their hand at learning a new technique of rock climbing called crack climbing, where you stuff your hands and feet into the cracks in the wall and twist the, to stay in place. Both were phenomenal and went way up on the rock! Natalie and Sloane challenged themselves to do more climbing today and both were awesome! Neely, again, was our expert climber and would help anyone who was confused with their knots or harnesses. After some more great climbing, we all walked back down to the van and piled in to get to our next stop, June Lake! It’s one of the most beautiful stops during the whole trip and every single kid jumped straight in the water (even though it was pretty cold!) the second we got there. Reid, as always, was a ball of energy and kept us all laughing with his jokes and excitement for the day. After our refreshing swim, we all headed back to our campsite for our last night in Yosemite. We had an awesome dinner of BBQ quesadillas and after, we had a fire and s’mores! Everyone was pretty pumped. Reese may have eaten the most with a grand total of five, but a few of us were definitely tight on her heels. Hallsie, Celeste, Anna, and Neely all played a game of chubby bunny, which had all of us laughing super hard. After a great moonup, the kids migrated to their Enos where Emilia told ghost story after ghost story. Everyone was enthralled. Eventually, we all settled into our tents for a good night of sleep.
This morning, our last day in Yosemite, we got to sleep in a little bit! It was a chill morning and for breakfast we had English muffins with egg, bacon, and cheese. They were a big hit. With everyone full, we headed to the park one last time to go on a hike! Bridget led us in jamming to some tunes on the way to the hike, and when we got there, everyone was ready to go. We went up Lembert Dome and when we arrived we got to see one of the coolest views of the whole summer. The hike wasn’t easy and had some serious elevation gain, but our group took it in stride and crushed it. James led the pack all the way up the trail and was the first to summit the point when we arrived! Mountains and valleys surrounded us in a 360-degree panorama, and everyone was excited we had all made it. Lunch at the top was incredible, and after a few moments to take it all in our group headed back down to the parking lot. On our way to Tahoe now and super excited! We will keep you updated soon. Loving and soaking in every minute of it!
Anna, Celeste, and Sam
… a word from the kiddos:
Holden – Hey guys! This trip has been awesome, we’ve been surfing and rock climbing at Yosemite already! The food has been great. It’s been a blast and I miss y’all!
James – Hey mom and dad. The campsites have been great and the counselors also have been great. If Wood enjoys canyonlands, then I’d love to go there next year. Can’t wait to see y’all when I get back!
Reese – Hey mom and dad! I’m having lots of fun and I’ve made a lot of friends. I’m at Lake Tahoe right now and we just got here from Yosemite where I went rock climbing. It was a little scary but I did it anyway. Can’t wait to see y’all when I get home! Tell Macy I say hi. Love you guys.
Warren – Hey mom and dad! I’m having a lot of fun and I’m eating a ton of food. Bridget from preschool is here and Reid Owens. It’s been awesome and I can’t wait to see y’all I’m a few days! Say hi to Sunny for me!
Fin – Hey mom and dad! It’s been fun here. I’ve been surfing and climbing and met lots of new friends. I’ve had a lot of great Zs. PS – Miss y’all!
Emilia – Hey Mom and Papa. I’m having loads of fun at camp with my new friends, and the food is really good. Super excited to see you. Love Emilia!
Reid – Hey mom and dad! Miss y’all. This trip has been a blast! I’m really excited for whitewater rafting and surfing has already been awesome.
Sloane – Hi mom and dad! I’m having so much fun and I’ve made a bunch of new friends. We just got to Lake Tahoe and I’m so excited to go in. The food is really good and I can’t wait to see ya in a week! Miss you, love Sloane.
Neely – Hi mom and dad! I miss you and I’ve made a ton of good friends. The food is great and I had a blast rock climbing. I saw El Cap which was awesome. Love you!
Hallsie – Hello mom and dad! I mis you guys so much. I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve been surfing, climbing, and hiking. I love you so much. Tell Maisy and Scout and Sage and Thatcher that I miss them. Sincerely, Hallsie
Natalie – Hi mom and dad! I miss you guys a lot but I have had an amazing time here I’m Cali with my new friends. I can’t wait to go swim in Lake Tahoe and go whitewater rafting. Miss you, love Natalie.
Bridget – Hey mom and dad! I miss y’all but I am having lots of fun with my new friends. The food is really good and I like the weather. Tell the dogs I miss them! Love Bridget.
July 14, 2022
Hellloooo from sunny California! Sam, Celeste, and I were so happy to pick up your sweet kids from SFO today and head to Half Moon Bay. We had a great morning of hanging out and getting to know each other in the airport and loved welcoming Emilia as our first arrival and Reid as our last kiddo to join the fam! We got to Half Moon and taught the kids how to set up their tents and our camp for the next two days. We love it here!! Before dinner, the kids begged us to get into the freezing ocean. We loved seeing everyone already diving headfirst into the trip! Warren and Reid then even initiated a group-wide game of makeshift baseball at our campsite. Dinner was some delicious local pizza, and then we finished up the night with our first Moonup. We got to go around and talk about things we were most excited to learn about throughout the next two weeks, from surfing to making new friends. Finally, we ended our first day by celebrating our first two LODs, Bridget and Holden! Here’s to California!
Good morning from Half Moon Bay. Our crew woke up early with Fin being the first early riser. Our first breakfast in Cali was chocolate chip pancakes with bacon and fruit. It was a hit! Enjoyed by all, we packed up for the day with full bellies and snacks and sandwiches galore for our full day of exploring and surfing. We headed out first to Lands’ End to check out the views and get our blood pumping in preparation for surfing! Emilia, Hallsie, Natalie, and Reese kept the energy high in the back of the van with song requests like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. We arrived at the beach after exploring, and everyone was in the ocean in no time! Holden was one of the first to stand up, with James not far behind him! All the kiddos were awesome at surfing. Sloane and Neely were naturals having already been surfing before, and their wise advice helped others to get up on their boards in no time. Our crew was pretty tuckered out after surfing, and we headed back to our campsite for a little bit of chill time and baseball before starting dinner. Our cook crew for tonight, Fin and James, helped create a Mexican feast for everyone! Fin was in charge of the guacamole and James helped prepare the chicken for burrito bowls and tacos. Our first full day was a success! Moonup finished off our day, and we can’t wait to travel to Yosemite tomorrow with our LODs Sloane and Reid leading the way!
We woke up to have bagels with cream cheese and yogurt for breakfast! Then packed up camp and headed to the beach for our last day of surfing in Pacifica. It was a cold and foggy morning, but the kiddos were still excited to get into the water! We loved and appreciated their energy!! After getting all wet-suited up, everyone ran into the ocean. James and Warren eagerly were the first in with Neely and Emilia not far behind. Everyone got up! The waves were big and perfect for a morning of surfing. Reid got a long run on one with Holden right behind him! Reese, Natalie, and Bridget came to hangout on the beach for a bit. Sand and drippy castles galore! The last surfers in the water were Hallsie and Neely. Rockstars!! After everyone was surfed out, our bunch changed and piled into the van for our next adventure in Yosemite!
We’re having a blast already and love your kids!
Anna, Celeste, and Sam
July 12, 2022
Hello California Families!
The whole group arrived safely in San Francisco and had a blast on their first activity today. We have heard from our leaders this evening 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