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Chamonix 3 A • July 1-July 23, 2022

The Final Farewell!

July 23, 2022

Hello, family and friends of Chamonix 3A!

Mary here with our final trip update, and what a sad thing it is to say goodbye to all of our students and to those of you who have followed along with our Chamonix 3A adventure. We are on our plane back to the States and we’re all so sad to leave one another and the Moondance magic behind.

Before today’s departure day, we were able to spend the past couple of days exploring the City of Lights — Paris!

To transfer to Paris our crew boarded a nice train from Lourdes. Crafton, Margaret, and Mary watched Aquamarine on the train ride as a nod to having our very own Aquamarine (Crafty!) on the trip with us. We laughed at the cringe-worthy moments of the movie and started to daydream what Paris adventures awaited us. The boys took advantage of the food cart and snacked on sandwiches and Pringles. As we neared the big city, our excitement grew. When we arrived, Travis led us through the various metro lines to our hostel with his knack for Paris wayfinding. Our group was ready for lunch, so we dropped our packs and walked down the street to an Italian restaurant for pizza, pasta, and salads. Mary Michael and Mary split a delicious honey, prosciutto, and cheese pizza; Jane chose a delicious spaghetti pasta; and the boys ate their weight in Margherita pizza. We were stuffed and ready to see some sights! With the students’ goal to buy banquet outfits, we set out for some shopping. First, though, we made our way to Luxembourg Gardens. We rented a toy boat to steer around the fountain and John, Graham, and Ed were the captains of our ship. “Canada,” our boat, collided a couple of times with “Mexico,” “England,” and “France,” but our maiden voyage was a successful and fun one overall. After “sailing,” we walked over to Le Bon Marché, an iconic shopping mall. The girls wove through Tiffany & Co., Farm Rio, and ba&sh while the boys found a dance competition happening on the second floor. Ben and Ed were offered a chance to compete, but Ed saved his moves for the Eiffel Tower (more on that later). With Le Bon Marché’s prices being a bit too steep for us, we crossed the street to Zara. Jack and Alex picked up outfits for the next day’s jaunt about Paris, and Crafton, Margaret, and Brynne picked up some killer green and pink pants. After a quick coffee and gelato break, Jack, Alex, Brynne, Mary Michael, Crafton, Jane, and Margaret helped pick out a picnic dinner for the entire group to dine under the Eiffel Tower. Travis, Graham, Edward, John, and Ben brought the tunes and we all united for a lovely meal under the twinkling lights. After dinner we played Zip, Zap, Zop and Birdie on a Perch. Brynne and Mary took on Graham and Ed in the final round of Birdie on a Perch and although they fought valiantly, Ed and Graham won in the end and scored 20 points for Ravenclaw (ask your students about our rendition of the Hogwarts House Cup during our final days of the trip). Dinner and games were a ton of fun, but Moonup during the Eiffel Tower’s light show was the cherry on top of a perfect Parisian day. Ed performed his high school’s dance competition’s dance under the lights and even bought a laser pointer to enhance the performance. We laughed and cheered Ed on during his French dance debut and made our way back to our hostel that evening in high spirits. We went to sleep excited for our final day together and a full day exploring Paris.

After sleeping in, we made our way to “Breakfast in America,” an American-style diner in Paris. Our students were ecstatic to feast on pancakes, eggs, and “bottomless cups of Joe” — a true treat and quite the change from the bread we’d become accustomed to for breakfast. There were even a few mocha milkshakes ordered! Foot Locker was just down the street from B.I.A. and Edward picked up a fresh pair of new kicks after breakfast. Jack got a new pair of Nikes, too, and Graham and John joined Travis in picking up some matching Chuck Taylors. The girls shopped around Berksha, Pull & Bear, and a few other stores. After we finished browsing, we went to Montmarte as a group. The views of the city were breathtaking! The boys went to go bowling after we took in the cityscape. Jack had quite the bowling form, but none of the boys had much luck getting a high score. However, fun and laughter abounded! As the boys bowled, the girls shared an afternoon boule or two at Café de Luce in the Montmarte neighborhood. From there, we popped into a couple shops, ate macarons, and made our way to the Louvre. From there, we were able to see the Arc de Triomphe, the Seine river, the Musee d’Orsay, and a couple of other icon French sights. We weren’t able to see the Mona Lisa, but we all agreed that we need to make our way to Paris again in the future! It is truly an enchanting city. The girls hopped back on the metro to meet the boys for banquet dinner. We chose Le Manufacture, a cute neighborhood restaurant where Crafton and Mary had picked up ice coffees the day before. The boys ordered burgers, Brynne braved a chicken casserole, and we all gobbled up chocolate mousse for dessert. After dinner, we returned to the hostel for our final Moonup. John and Brynne, our final LODs, led our Moonup and opened the Moonup with a “nug toast” for each member of our Chamonix 3A group. If you’re not familiar with the “nug jug,” be sure to ask your student what exactly “nugs” are. On our last night, we were able to give nugs to each person to encourage and affirm everyone in ways that are unique to each one of us. I wish you – these amazing students’ parents – could have been a fly on the wall to hear all the praise and celebration that each and every student received. Everyone raved about Brynne’s authenticity and maturity, Graham’s sense of humor, Mary Michael’s courage and ability to overcome challenges, John’s ability to leave others better than he finds them, Ed’s bravery and leadership, Ben’s intellectual curiosity, Jack’s humility and concern for others, Alex’s smile and YOLO mentality, Crafton’s laughter and spunk, Margaret’s honesty, and Jane’s ability to be a friend to all. This has truly been a wonderful group of students and Travis and I have been honored to learn from and adventure alongside them the past three weeks. We are so sad to see them go, but we are SO excited to see all that they’ll grow to be and do in this world!

Thank you for sharing each one of them with us and allowing them to have this grand Moondance adventure!

With gratitude and admiration,
Mary and Travis

Terrific Trekking in Europe!!

July 22, 2022

Bonjour from Paris!

We’re wrapping up the last moments of our trip together, but before we send your students back to you, we wanted to fill you in on the EPIC Pyrenees section we just completed.

Here’s a look into the eight days we spent trekking in Spain and France!

Day 1 started with a wake-up call from Mary Michael, our LOD. Leaving Lourdes, we started our sleepy drive to the grocery store for trail snacks and lunch foods where Brynne helped the purchase of peanut butter using her high school French skills. At the Pyrenees trailhead, we met Mateo (our mountain guide). While hiking through the forest alongside a beautiful river, Mateo told a strange and laughable story of a mountain bear, resulting in bear mockery and noises by Edward. The hike to our lunch spot was hot, but once we made it, it was a trip highlight. The freezing mountain pond urged everyone to take a swim, but John, Jack, and Mary Michael were harder to convince, leading to an onslaught of splashes. After enjoying the water and baguette sandwiches, we continued our uphill climb. Travis helped the hike go by quickly by teaching Ben, Jack, Graham, Ed, and John his marching songs, while Crafton snapped epic photos of the surrounding mountains and cows. After a beautiful day of hiking, we arrived at our hostel for the night, overlooking a beautiful stream and mountain range. For dinner we ate couscous and stew and went to bed excited for Day 2.

We woke up in our packed hostel with eagerness to start Day 2. After a rough morning due to no running water or flushing toilets, we started the 700m ascent to our only pass of the day. As Jane carried the music speaker, Jack kept spirits high with his best impression of Adele. By the time we got to the top of the pass, everyone was already “gassed,” as Graham says, and we were not prepared for the long trek ahead. Before we began our descent into the valley below, Edward and John went to inspect a nearby marmot. Our descent was steep and rocky, which foreshadowed some spills that Margaret and Mary Michael fell victim to. We walked a little longer to a nice lunch spot in the valley. Despite a “mid” lunch, as John says, spirits were high. As cows passed by our lunch spot, Graham decided to name a calf Andre, which had the entire group in hysterics. The rest of the walk felt like an “eternity.”  Frequent stops at nearby streams kept people cool and also instigated a water fight between Travis and Graham. Everything was worth it when we arrived at a cold stream with a perfect bridge to jump off of. Alex started off the jumping with courage and was followed by a sweet flip by Ben. Everyone enjoyed the stream and then made their way to the best Refugio of the trip, which had what felt like the best burgers in the world. After a very long day, everyone settled down and made their way to bed for a great night’s rest.

After a great morning at the Bujaruelo Refugio, our mountain guide Mateo encouraged us to get going on another exciting hike for Day 3. Starting our day in the quaint town of La Torla to stock up on some snacks for the day, Mary Michael and Margret were pumped to pick up some “trail juice” for the day ahead. As we started on our gradual hike up in hopes of reaching a beautiful waterfall, Ben pointed out an awesome lunch spot with a great swimming spot afterwards. As Graham, followed by Alex, Edward, and Ben, took a plunge into the cold river water, John impressed the group with an amazing backflip all caught on Crafton’s camera. The group was feeling the heat after lunch and headed towards a sick waterfall before taking a steep climb up to the refugio. Listening to some tunes, the group made its way to the top of the canyon and felt the breeze rushing up from below. Of course, we stopped and had a photo session with the amazing view. Ed and Travis executed a perfect representation of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings with the beautiful mountains in the background, only to be photobombed by Jane. Finally arriving at the refuge, the group was pleasantly surprised by a pasta dinner and a gorgeous sunset. Ending the day with an eventful Moonup with Mateo joining in, the group was glad to be done with the day. Jack’s idea to see the stars inspired the group to stay up and enjoy the view above.

On Day 4, as we woke up in our triple layer bunk beds, we ate some bread and cereal and were off to the trail. We trekked uphill through long grass and plated rocks with a huge cave as our destination. When we made it to the cave, the temperature changed from a dry heat to a cold wind. Our breath was visible, so Alex, Brynne, and Margret made the game time decision and got bundled up with their coats. The icy cave encouraged the group to skate and illuminate the ice blocks with their headlamps. We ate our egg sandwiches and Spanish starbursts and were off to the France boarder. Hiking up and down the loose rocks, Travis slipped and slid down some of the rocks to be helped up by Jane. With the border in sight, we took a break next to a glacier, encouraging Graham, Jack, Travis, and John to have a snowball fight. Nearing the pass, Ben was shouting “echo” to the hikers at the border between Spain and France, and we got responses of “bonjour” and “hola” back. Arriving at the border, it was packed with fellow hikers, so we were up there for a couple minutes, but we all took in the beauty of the mountains and rolling hills. As we descended from the pass, we spotted more snow to play in, so Jane, Mary Michael, and Crafton used their pack covers as sleds and shared with the whole group for a fun time. The hostel was in viewing distance, but a challenging descent with loose rocks was in the way. The challenge was conquered with flying colors and with the remainder of the day, we all hung out together and enjoyed the surrounding mountains. We all watched the sunset and were well fed and got our deserved beauty sleep, except for Edward who was up all night because of the baa-ing sheep.

Day 5 started the same way we ended the night — with baa-ing sheep. The hike started with a steep downhill with more loose rocks, but we were presented with the largest waterfall in Europe. Finishing the downhill, we started a trek through a forest, unbeknownst to Mateo, we took a wrong turn up the mountain and got lost; Mary Michael was not too happy about this. Finally finding the trail to the town, Gavernie, Margaret ate her liquified snickers bar with pride. After we descended through the forest, we finally made it to Gavernie and we treated ourselves to a steak burger and boules of ice cream. After lunch, we found some shade by a river and Jack, Edward, Graham, Travis, and Alex took baths in the numbingly cold stream. Crafton, Jane, Mary, and Brynne all played a competitive game of Bananagrams. After an afternoon spent lounging around at the river, we hiked to our hostel, and everyone ran to the showers. Ben, Travis, and Mary slept on our patio under the stars with natural white noise from the river and a natural fan from a cool breeze.

We had a quick departure from our hostel and hiked back down to the town of Gavernie for a hefty and hardy breakfast to start Day 6. We ordered chocolate covered waffles and ham and cheese omelets from a local restaurant while Mary and the boys played the game Heads Up for an eventful morning. After a filling breakfast, we went back to our picnic spot from yesterday for some chill and fun time. Mary, Brynne, and Margaret went to a souvenir shop to get postcards for everyone to write home. Travis, Jane, Jack, Alex, and Crafton went back to the souvenir shop to get funny and cool t-shirts for themselves, all taking a photo together with them on. The boys took another bath in the river, and we were off on the trail. We hiked to a hotel and Edward, Graham, Jack, Alex, and John took a side route to the biggest waterfall in Europe. We had a relaxing uphill climb through the trees and dripping rocks, until we got out in the open sun. To keep morale high, Crafton, Graham, Jack, Edward, and John stayed in the back and had a dance party up the mountain. Arriving at the top, the group reunited with “Hotel Room Service”, by Pitbull, hoping to block out the smell of donkeys nearby. We settled in a floor to ourselves and while the boys aired out their feet and socks (John dropped his sock on the roof), the girls had a dance party to Frozen music. We had lentils and sausage for dinner and for dessert we had Edward’s favorite, chocolate mousse. After dinner, we watched the sunset over the mountain range and Mary turned on “Fergalicious”, making a dance party and had Travis doing the gritty, ending our night.

On Day 7 we woke up and began our 2nd to last day of hiking knowing it would be a long one. Graham and Mary Michael gave us a motivating quote for the day: “enjoy it.” We hiked uphill listening to Travis’s tunes and once we got to the top, Ben had a chat with an English-speaking fellow hiker. The downhill was as tough as the uphill, but, when we made it to our lunch spot by another river, the group morale shot up. Graham, Edward, and John threw big rocks in the water, splashing everyone sunbathing, so Travis retaliated and got all three in the water. The fun continued as John filled up Travis’s Nalgene and poured it on Mateo, resulting in laughs and good memories. The hike continued on a flat through tall grass, then changed to a smaller uphill climb which we got a crazy view of a dam with turquoise water. We zigzagged down to the small town our hostel was in and when we got there, everyone got a chocolate crepe, boules of ice cream, and orangina. Everyone napped until dinner and when we woke up, we had some pasta and sausage. We all went to bed full and very content.

We woke up on Day 8 in our small mountain town to an extremely foggy morning. We ate breakfast then slept an hour longer to sleep the fog away. The fog was still around, so we shortened our loop hike and hiked near our hotel. We played balancing stone and Brynne, John, and Graham all were champions. We went back down the loop and enjoyed some ice cream, hot chocolate, and lunch. After lunch we took a curvy bus ride back to Lourdes and settled into our hotel. Everyone went to the castle of Lourdes and saw the city from an overhead view and the cool medieval artifacts. After the castle, we went back to our rooms and chilled until dinner. We had burgers and were excited to transfer to Paris for our final days together!

Before wrapping up this trip update, we want to leave you with some notes of gratitude from your students. It has been a delight to spend three weeks with them and we’re all so thankful for this incredible experience!

Love and gratitude,

Chamonix 3A


Alex:  Hey Guys! Thank you so much for sending me on this amazing trip! I can’t believe it’s almost over, but I can’t wait to see you guys soon

Jack: Hey Fam! Thank y’all for sending me on this trip! It’s been incredible! See y’all shortly!

Ben: Hey guys! Thank you so much for sending me on this trip. I have had a wonderful time and can’t wait to tell you all about it. See y’all in a few days!

Mary Michael: Hey mom and dad! Thank you so much for sending me on this trip! It has truly been a once and a lifetime opportunity and I enjoyed every moment! See you soon

Crafton: Heyy family… I have missed y’all so much and can’t wait to see you soon! I am so grateful for the opportunity to be on this amazing trip, thank you!!

Jane: Hi mom and dad! I wanted to say thank you for sending me on this amazing trip! Miss y’all and can’t wait to see y’all soon.

Brynne: Hey guys!! Thank you so so much for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip! It has been such an amazing and unique experience! I can’t wait to see you guys and tell you all about it!

John: Hey Mom and Dad! Thank you so so much for sending me on his trip. I have made memories I will never forget. Can’t wait to see you! Love you.

Ed: Hey mom and dad! Thanks a bunch for letting me go on this trip! I have had so much fun and have made so many amazing memories! I can’t wait to see everyone in Nashville soon! Love y’all!

Margaret: What up fam!!! I have had the best time ever, and I never want to go home. Thank you x a million for the opportunity to experience the last three weeks exploring Europe!!

Graham: Bonjour! This trip has been so much fun and I have made so many memories. Thank you for sending me on this trip and I’ll see you soon! Love you.

Kayaking the Coast!

July 12, 2022

Hola, familia y amigos!

We’ve switched countries and languages since we last wrote to y’all and we’ve changed scenery quite a bit, too. We’re writing to you from the coast of Spain where it looks like we’re living in the movie Luca. Gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea have been our constant companion as we’ve sea kayaked along Costa Brava. Before our arrival, we took a series of buses and trains to wind our way from Switzerland to France to Spain. Yet again your sons and daughters proved to be travel champions — conquering the 12-hour travel day with smiles on their faces. Alex and Jack even found a gym during one layover to get an arm workout in while we waited on our next train. The rest of us found a grocery store for Pringles, Haribo gummy bears, and a cold Coca Cola (the students’ favorite snack combination on this trip). While Alex and Jack hit the gym, Edward taught the rest of us his school’s choreographed Michael Jackson dance and we have big plans to perform it underneath the Eiffel Tower once we make it to Paris.

Once we made it to Spain we audibly rejoiced and made our way to our campground’s restaurant for a pizza feast. In between slices, John tried to convince Mary why the Bengals are the nation’s greatest football team. After dinner, Margaret and Graham led our Moonup and we all went to sleep ready for a good night’s rest after a long day. The next morning our students tested their chef skills as each bungalow made breakfast as a group. Alex and Jack chef’ed up a breakfast they were really proud of, and we all made our way to the coast for Day 1 of sea kayaking. Crafton was immediately in her element on the beach (as we’ve dubbed her our very own Aquamarine). After a quick sea kayaking tutorial with our guides, we were ready to hit the water! We made our way along the coastline passing boats, other paddlers, and many a snorkeler as our guides told us all Sundays in July are busy days around Costa Brava. We can understand why! Along our route we were able to explore caves and beaches and rocks for cannonball-ing. Everyone was loving the views! Edward even tickled our ears with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah as we kayaked into the coolest cave of the day and his vocals echoed off the cave walls as we paddled through. We were laughing and singing right along with him! During lunch, Brynne, Ben, and John took advantage of the opportunity to swim. After our lunch/swim break, Travis and Mary announced our dinner plan for the evening — an Iron Chef match-up between Team Jane and Team Alex, with a Great British Baking Show theme. On our paddle back to the beach Graham learned the kayaking wet exit and may or may not be caught on our GoPro with the world’s funniest return-to-kayak video. Once we returned to the beach and returned our gear, the two Iron Chef teams headed to the local grocery store to pick up their groceries for the meal they made for the judges, Paul Hollywood (Travis) and Prue (Mary). On Team Jane, Mary Michael learned to cut vegetables for the first time! And Margaret can be credited for making dish duty fun and John’s “favorite part of the trip thus far,” as he told Mary this morning. Only the magic of Moondance could make washing dishes a highlight of the trip!! Ultimately, Team Alex won the competition with some delicious street steak tacos created by head chef Alex and his phenomenal sous-chef, Brynne. Parents, y’all gotta get them to make you this meal at home!

Day 2 of kayaking was just as beautiful as Day 1! With LODs John and Crafton inspiring us with the morning motivation of “Rip it!” as our quote for the day, we were ready to do just that in the water! Our entire group got to jump off gorgeous cliffs into the clear blue Mediterranean water. Ben was the first one off with a front flip then John next with a back flip. Alex, Jane, and Brynne all swam through an underwater tunnel. We paddled to some other cliffs and Margaret was the first in the water swimming toward them. There was one cliff that was just a bit higher (22 feet max) and all the boys (Graham being the leader of this journey) stood at the top looking down at the water, shaking in their swimming shorts. None of them jumped. Edward even climbed back down – it would have been way easier  to jump. Travis will never let them live it down. On the way back to the shore Mary Michael led the journey home. Once we got back to camp, we got to have a pool party back at our campground after our day of sea kayaking. The real highlight of today, though, was the cooking showcase put on for us, which had us wanting to stay on the coast a little bit longer. We were served incredible apps of salmon tartar, cheesy tomato bread, and fried calamari. But tomorrow we transfer to the Pyrenees! To wrap up this update, we’ll leave you with some shoutouts from your students — everyone is sending love back home to the States. We look forward to updating you after our next trekking section!!

Enviando abrazos desde España,

Mary, Travis & the entire Chamonix 3A crew


Crafton: Hii, I hope everyone is having so much fun on their trips this summer! I love my group so much and I can’t wait to tell y’all about it. Right now we are Spain about to take a cooking class… so bougie! Love y’all


Mary Michael: Hey fam! Im having an amazing time and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Hope y’all are treating Copper well and are enjoying your free time! See you soon


Brynne: Hey guys!!! I’m having an incredible time and enjoying all of these new experiences! Thank you all for everything! I hope you and the dogs are all doing well, I’ll see you all soon!


Jane: Hi mom, dad, and Lucy! I’m having an awesome time in Chamonix, and am so excited to tell y’all about it. Give Roxy a hug for me! Love and miss you!


Margaret: I’m having the best time ever!! Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to experience all of these new places and activities. I love y’all and I’ll see you soon!!!


Edward: Hey mom and dad I am having a great time here. I have met so many people and all have become great new friends! Miss you guys hope Nash is great!


Graham: Hey mom and dad I’m having a lot of fun out here in Europe. I will talk to you in a week and a half. Love you! And thank you for sending me on this trip!


John: Hello mother and father. This trip is amazing. Spain is amazing and everyone is getting along. I’ll tell you more about it in a week or two. Love you. Miss you.


Alex: Hey Mom and Dad! We are in Spain right now, and have been having the best time ever and just wanted to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on this amazing trip. Love you guys and can’t wait to see y’all soon!


Ben: Just wanna thank y’all for sending me on this trip. Everyone is getting along and having a great time, and we are growing as both hikers and people. Can’t wait to show y’all all the pictures and tell you about (some of) the inside jokes.


Jack: Hey mom and dad! I’m having a great time out here on Chamonix! Thank y’all for being the best – I’ll see ya in a week and a half!


Conquering Chamonix!!

July 9, 2022

Bonjour, Chamonix 3A family and friends!

I am writing to you all from a train en route to Costa Brava for the sea kayaking section of our trip. But before we move on to a new county and a new activity, we have to give you all the scoop on what we have experienced since our arrival in France!

As you all know, we experienced numerous delays and varied departure times during our travel to Geneva from the States. I (Mary) was the sole leader with the Chamonix 3A and 3B groups in the Atlanta and Paris airports, and can attest to the resiliency, flexibility, and positive attitudes of each student on the Moondance Chamonix 3A and 3B trips this summer. I am sure those of you reading this update have experienced your fair share of international travel horror stories and know that each of you would be proud of the positivity, fun, and laughter that each of your students continued to spread hour after hour of waiting in ticket lines, at different departure gates, and through customs. Every single student was a travel rock star!

Once we arrived in Geneva, we took a bus to Chamonix and our 3A group was finally all together! We met Travis and Crafton at our hostel and got to sleep after 24+ hours of travel on the road and in the air. Those were some super sweet dreams!

After sleeping in, we woke up to explore the town of Chamonix! Enveloped by the surrounding mountains, our eyes feasted on Mont Blanc as we feasted on pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. Ice cream at Chamonice was the perfect dessert to follow our lunch and Mary Michael was crowned our ice cream queen with her ability to choose the best flavors. We then popped in and out of local shops in downtown Chamonix. Jack purchased some killer new North Face shorts with fish all over them (perfect for the trail and rivers back home) and Edward bought a “King of Ride” shirt that had everyone laughing for the rest of the day. Our Moonup near the town’s old stone church was an idyllic place to gather for our first official Moonup, and our group already felt bonded in a special way having endured all the travel chaos the two days prior. We were a united front ready to take on the southern route of the Tour du Mont Blanc the next morning! Little did we know, when we went to sleep that night, how much fun awaited us on the trail the next day.

With our packs packed, a French breakfast fueling our start, and heavy rains miraculously clearing right as we left our hostel, our group was ready for Day 1 of the TMB and the 4th of July! Xavier, our trekking guide, met us at the hostel and got us up the cable car to the trailhead. There the adventure began! Ben and Crafton, our first Leaders of the Day (LODs), read the map with Xavier and reported the route out to the rest of the group. And we were off! Weaving up and down mountain trails, we made our way to our first “refuge,” the mountain “bed and breakfasts” where we slept each night, called Refuge de Miage. This refuge was nestled at the base of a giant mountain with streams, a field of cows, and just about every other picturesque mountainside image that comes to mind. The refuge served us a dinner complete with the perfect 4th of July dessert — blueberry pie. Following that night’s Moonup, we celebrated the 4th with a dance party. Bruce Springsteen filled our ears and Travis’ DJ’ing warmed our hearts. It was the perfect way to top off our 4th of July in France with a fun taste of home.

The next day we trekked to Refuge de La Balme. Along the way, we saw more mountain cows (which had Crafton smiling wide) and enough wildflowers to paint a rainbow with their various colors. The natural reserve of the TMB is truly majestic. When we reached the refuge and dropped our packs, Xavier had a plan to take volunteers a bit beyond the refuge to an alpine lake for a quick swim. Ben, Jack, and Alex bravely volunteered and were able to take in, and I quote, the “most epic views of the entire TMB.“ The rest of us felt satisfied with our warm showers that we were able to take and we reconvened as a group for dinner, Moonup, and a hilarious game of Mafia narrated by John.

Day 3 on the TMB was one of the most challenging AND most beautiful. We started the morning by climbing uphill. Every student kept a strong pace which allowed us to walk an alternative route after lunch. This route, climbing along a ridge line, offered us a 360-degree views of the Alps. With glaciers in view, millions of wildflowers dancing in the wind, and joyful friends in front and behind us, our Cham 3A crew felt like we were in Heaven! This route led to our third refuge, called the Cheese Factory, a rustic cabin that Moondance had to ourselves for the night. Upon arriving, each person prepared their talent for the Moondance Talent Show we had that night. Graham, John, and Ed had everyone in tears (from laughter) with their dizzy bat water bottle talent and Jack, Crafton, and Ben tickled our ears with a song they performed. Moonup that night was legendary. For the first time we were able to be as loud as we wanted. And, boy, were we! Each nug from the jug was followed by a loud, barbaric cheer which stemmed from, Graham and Edward.

Day 4 we started our trail on the road the Tour de France is rode on to a bus stop. After taking the bus to our trail head Travis started the trek with some riddles. Ben and Brynne quickly picked up on them. John on the other hand still has no idea and that was days ago. He’s still sour about it. Halfway up this 800-meter climb, Jane whipped out the speaker (LOD in charge of carrying speaker) and played some tunes to the top of the border. Thunderstruck was the song that got us to the top where we then crossed into Italy. We descended our way into a beautiful, small town in Italy. The hungry folks (Margaret, Katherine, Alex and Mary Michael) found a focaccia shop owned by this very sweet Italian woman. After, we were surprised by a very nice hotel with showers and a little more privacy and a very fancy, Italian dinner, including pizza and bolognese!

Day 5 was our last day trekking in the tour de Mont Blanc. We hiked up 400 meters to a beautiful lunch spot surrounded by snowcapped mountains, a glacier and some cow poop. After hiking down, we stopped for some gelato then let the dogs breathe (our feet) until our bus back to Chamonix. Once we arrived, we said our goodbyes to Xavier. They were all presented with a certificate for completing the tour de Mont Blanc. We had burgers in town and topped it off with a boule from our favorite place, Chamonice. We spent the rest of the evening getting ready for our long train day to Spain for sea kayaking. We are so excited to watch this group continue to grow together and flourish!

Signing off,

Mary and Travis

Arrived Safely in Geneva!

July 2, 2022

Hello Chamonix 3A 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!

-Moondance HQ


  • Alex
  • Ben
  • Brynne
  • Crafton
  • Edward
  • Graham
  • Jack
  • Jane
  • John
  • Margaret
  • Mary