June 29, 2022
Tears. Why oh why did they have to go. Each person on our trip has meant more to us than you will ever know. As we write this final trip update, we still cannot wrap our minds around the sobering silence. Empty chairs and empty tables where our kids will sing no more. At least we have some pretty spectacular memories to look back on, knowing that our kids are in the air & flying away from the nest.
After we finished our final day of trekking in the Alps, we ended up back in Chamonix and got to spend the afternoon exploring there and enjoying the Marathon du Mont Blanc festivities. The next day we had an early morning wake and set off to embark on the final part of our adventure in Paris! The kids were excited to get to the city and the train ride was filled with laughs and coloring competitions. After dropping our stuff off at our hostel, we immediately set out to have a picnic lunch in the Jardin de Luxembourg. The kids even got to play a pickup game of basketball with some locals! We heard Henry Faison is quite the wild card player.
Then we walked around for the afternoon going shopping and sightseeing! We got to stop at some super cool thrift stores, where Anderson, Cooper, and Henry Hildreth all got some tie dye t-shirts that really solidified their Parisian chic style for the remainder of the trip. For dinner, we went to a lovely Italian place right next to where we were staying, and all grubbed out on some delicious pizza and pasta. For Moonup that night we got to do an activity called “Tap Someone Who…” where the kids got to anonymously acknowledge each other for their strengths. It was incredibly moving, and as always Maria getting emotional tugs at our heart strings. We had a big group hug to round out the night<3
The next morning, we woke up bright and early to go to Montmartre, where we got to climb the steps of the Sacré-Cour and get a 360 view of all of Paris. Henley sang beautifully with the singer performing outside, and Pay Pay lead the way on guiding us to touring the inside of the church- we love our solo Driver.
After that, we were fortunate enough to add a little bit of culture into our high school buddies’ lives via the Musée d’Orsay. I loved seeing Owen schooling us all with his wide array of art history (“which is still history”). Anderson and Cooper were taken aback by the multitude of sublime statutes depicting Greek mythology. Clarice was under the spell of the museum from the beginning and had multiple WOW moments included when we saw some of Van Gogh’s more well-known pieces. Overall, it was a magical experience!
Our final banquet dinner was at the quaintest restaurant, close to the Eiffel Tower- where we got to have a fabulous meal while reminiscing on all our times together as a group. We also got to taste some world-class gelato that came out in the form of flowers in a cone- topped off with a macaroon. Then we finally got to embrace the beauty of the Eiffel Tower in all its magnificence! Logan was making some stellar blogs of our first encounter with the attraction, and we can’t wait to see them on his YouTube channel. It was truly so special to watch the kids see the tower for the first time and realize how far they’ve come throughout the trip. Clarice and Anderson led an incredible last Moonup for the group, and everyone loved on one another as we celebrated our trip underneath the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower. Blythe’s smile as the lights began to turn on will always warm my heart, while Lily completing her first ever Moondance with such grace absolutely floors me.
It makes us so sad to watch this one-of-a-kind group go, but we are so excited to watch them continue to thrive and grow into the exceptional individuals we have come to know & love. We are going to miss CHA1B dearly and we love your children so much- thank you for trusting us with them and we hope we impacted them as much as they have impacted us. Each and every one of them has such a bright future ahead of them and we’re so grateful that we got to be a small part of it!
Bo (Falcon) & Caroline (Dove)
June 28, 2022
Well bonjour there! It’s day 20 and trust me, we have put the adventure in Moondance Adventures here in the Swiss Alps. Day after day, we basked in some of Europe’s most incredible landscapes and continuously became closer and closer as a temporary family.
As a special treat for international music day in France, we found a live music venue with a DJ and had an amazing time all dancing and goofing around together. Henry Faison killed it during our dance circles, while Cooper taught us all some great moves.
On our first day of trekking, we met our guide named Nicholas, who is from Argentina. He was quick to tell us his life story and how he became a Swiss mountain guide. Before we set foot on the trail, he warned us that the weather might not be as agreeable as we had previously been used too; however, we trudged on and used it as a character-building experience. Our first day of the trek was especially incredible because we were able to eat breakfast in France, lunch in Italy, and dinner in Switzerland. Needless to say we were all amazed how we were able to accomplish crossing two borders in one day.
After our experience in the Pyrenees, we felt a lot more prepared for the hiking we were about to encounter. It was also incredible to watch how much members of our group improved in their hiking skills, Clarice and Lily were soaring up the mountain and it was so special to watch.
Throughout all of the first day and frankly all of our alps’ experience, Owen was always in the lead with our guide Nicholas. He constantly talks about how beautiful everything is and has an obvious affinity for nature. Some of my favorite memories on the trail have been checking in on different students during certain different portions of the trek; many were clearly sweating and possibly a little tired (in the best way). This was never the case for Maria. She has always been a light for our group whenever we needed it.
On our third day we stayed in a hostel in Champex that had a sauna! We all took advantage of this spa like opportunity, and it was Anderson’s first time experiencing one. It was super relaxing and we got to have meaningful chats while relaxing after a long day of hiking. We also got to play some board games at a cool spot next door that resembled a glass greenhouse, and Payton taught a bunch of us how to play Poker.
One of my favorite moments during the alps has been talking to Henry Hildreth. We love to talk about his last summer doing Moondance in Yellowstone. From the way it sounds it was the best trip of his life at that moment; he also had some of the best leaders imaginable, Hastings (my cousin) and Suzanne (leading Kilimanjaro and is working in the office in the fall). I don’t like to brag, buuut he has recently decided that Chamonix is now the best trip of his life and that is partially due to the amazing views we have seen and is mostly due to our amazing group. We do not want to ever say goodbye and are so incredibly grateful that parents are willing to share them with us.
For our final night on the trail we stayed in Les Glières at a beautiful hotel right in the center of town. The kids closed out their night with an epic game of Mafia in which Blythe was successful in eliminating almost the entire group before being discovered. Breakfast here was the best spread we’ve had so far, and we were so proud of Logan for learning not only about Cryptocurrency but how to boil an egg. Our last day of hiking lead us back to Chamonix, and Henley as always kept us grounded and going with her jokes and positive attitude.
When we got back to Chamonix for our last night before heading to Paris, we got to spend the entire afternoon exploring. The Marathon de Mont Blanc was also going on at the time, so we got to encounter runners both on the trail and experience the excitement as they crossed the finish line in town. We all felt really inspired by their athleticism and bravery.
We are now on the train heading to Paris for our last two days together, and we are planning to savor every last moment we get together. These kids have made this trip into the absolute best experience we could have hoped for, and we can’t wait to end with a bang!
– Bo and Caroline
June 26, 2022
We just finished sea kayaking in Costa Brava, Spain! It was much needed after our seven days of hiking in the Pyrenees.
After we finished hiking, we spent the night in Lourdes and went back to our favorite pizzeria. That night, there were locals playing live music and they eventually began to serenade us. Their rendition of “Hallelujah” brought Maria and Henley to tears. The locals allowed us to join in, and Cooper and Blythe got to play the guitar as we all sang! It was a magical night.
The next morning, we headed out! Once we got on the bus, we immediately started playing some of our favorite songs. One of which was a song by Henley and Henry F’s past leader, Frankie Mayfield. His ballad, “Over the Line”, has become a quick favorite among the group in these past couple of days.
We arrived to our campsite late that night and were welcomed to a tent utopia. Everywhere around us were these massive house-sized tents were ours for the taking. The kids were ecstatic! The tents created a small town with every amenity imaginable. Every free moment available, the boys were either swimming or playing basketball.
We then had our first day of sea-yakaing. We began this journey on the Mediterranean Sea which was absolutely breathtaking. The kids were having a ton of fun paddling around with each other. We got to look up at cliffs, go into sea caves, and eventually ended up at a beautiful beach where we had lunch. Logan dominated in our game of “Don’t Touch my Rock”. During the sea kayaking, Henry Faison saw a shark and we have been calling him shark boy ever since. We spent the afternoon on the beach and played an epic game of “Death Ball” with a soccer ball we bought, and Owen was our top contender in almost every round. Henry Hildreth and Payton absolutely loved the beach and spent a lot of time snorkeling.
That evening, we got to participate in a cooking class at a local restaurant named La Brasa. We ate salmon tartar and a seafood paella dish that we helped prepare. Peyton even tried a croquette! Even though she didn’t like it, we were very proud of her for going outside her comfort zone and taking a bite! Dessert was a delicious key lime pie that everyone absolutely devoured.
Our next day of sea kayaking was on a river due to increased wind and it was an awesome time getting to all ride in double kayaks. Anderson showed off his crew skills with how quickly he paddled down the river! What a speed demon! While Clarice and Maria concocted an entire cast list for a live version of Hercules. It was a fabulous time.
The last night of camping in Punta Mila we embarked on the classic Moondance tradition of Iron Chef. In this competition, we split our group into 4 teams of 3 and had them create their signature dish which they would present to us to judge. The winners of best skit were Henley, Lily, and and Henry H. where Lily came up with the hilarious idea to perform a rendition of a funny story. The winner of best meal was Cooper, Anderson, and Clarice as they created some of the best stir fry of our lives. It activated all of our senses and was truly a delicious masterpiece.
Now we are embarking on the Tour de Mont Blanc and are sad that we are entering the final section of our trip! We can’t wait to make this last week one of the best of our lives and embrace every single view, conversation, and moment. We’ll be back soon with more!
Bye for now!
Bo and Caroline
June 20, 2022
Bonjour! Reporting live to you from Lourdes, France where we are staying after completing our seven days of backpacking in the Pyrenees! We have had an adventure already as we tried to intersect the location of Lily’s bag. Lily was nothing but positive throughout out this first challenge of missing luggage. The trip kicked off magnificently with us touching down in Geneva after a long travel day and immersing ourselves back into the Moondance culture and lessons. Everyone adjusted to the time change quickly and we all had a blast playing games on the train as we made our way to Lourdes. The group clicked immediately. After a delicious dinner at a local restaurant, we had an awesome Moonup and some nighttime giggles before getting ready to embark on our tour of the Pyrenees.
After breakfast we met our energetic and kind mountain guide Matteo who would be trekking with us for the next week. Blythe and Henry Faison were our first leaders of the day as we embarked on the trail. They did a terrific job keeping the positive energy up as we hiked towards Torla. We celebrated Owen’s birthday that evening with a rack of lamb and a piñata filled with candy! Maria was super helpful with the language barrier as we crossed between France and Spain. Her language skills are impeccable! Throughout our hike we were able to take a multitude of breaks to enjoy our surroundings and take in the majesty of the mountains. Anderson and Cooper have been taking daily “telescope” pictures with their trekking poles while leading the group, and Owen revealed his talent for storytelling. Logan has kept us laughing throughout the hike as he gives us much needed energy when people needed it most. The second day of hiking was definitely our hardest, but Payton and Clarice gave it their all and inspired everyone with their perseverance. Lily has also been a star on the trail, and no one would be able to tell it’s her first Moondance trip from how well she is thriving. One of our favorite refugios we stayed at in the town of Espugettes, where we had a 360 view of our route thus far and got to play our favorite game of “Birdie on a Perch”. Henry Hildreth has been the biggest threat during the game absolutely dominating the competition, while Henley has been cracking us up with her humor.
We have experienced some of the world’s most breathtaking environments in existence. Unfortunately, our first leg ended as all good things do. The most commonly used phrase throughout the trip has consistently been, “this is so cool”. We have been blessed with an amazing group. Each student is unique and an essential member of our group dynamic. We are relishing in each moment that we are able to share with them.
Until next time! A bientôt et au revoir!
Bo and Caroline
June 8, 2022
Hello Chamonix Families!
We just heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Geneva. 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!