June 21, 2022
Hello CRO A Family and Friends!
To start, we want to say one last THANK YOU for sharing your kids with us for the past two weeks in Croatia. This was an incredibly talented, funny, and entertaining group—we are so thankful to have gotten to know them so well. We can confidently say that each of them enriched our lives and, together, they reminded us of all that is beautiful in this world. They truly will be in our hearts forever and we can’t wait to continue to be a part of their lives.
We started the last leg of our adventure with a ferry ride over to the beautiful island of Mljet, right off the coast of Old Town Dubrovnik. Hardy entertained everyone in the group on the ride by drawing detailed cartoon sketches of all of us. When we landed on Mljet, we headed over to our campsite, a rustic spot near the ocean. This campsite brought us an adventure we hadn’t encountered before: cooking our own meals. While at first the kids might not have been too excited about this, we created cooking crews and they all made the most of the opportunity. In fact, John was such a pro in the kitchen that he decided to help cook on the days even when he wasn’t on cook crew. Thomas conquered his fear of bees while slicing up some chicken, fighting off any bug that tried to come near. During our stay on the island. we made some delicious meals together and enjoyed the time spent cooking and eating together.
Our first activity on the island was a small mountain hike that ended on some beautiful little sections of the Adriatic Sea that we could swim in. Before we got to these swimming spots, we hiked to a small summit to see some amazing views of the Croatian Coast. Carter made sure to document these cool views on her GoPro, vlogging and getting everyone hype at the lookout. Then, when we got to our swimming spot, Cole did what he does best and found us a spot to cliff jump off. Don’t worry, he has perfected the art of testing water depth and safety before we all jump! The water here is beautiful – crystal clear and the perfect temperature. Scarlett made the most of our swimming adventures and was jumping in the water every chance she got. After our hiking and swimming adventures, we headed back to the campsite for dinner and Moonup. After Moonup, we took a moment to stargaze and take it all in, as this campsite offered us the most amazing views of the stars that we had seen so far on the trip.
On day two of our island stay, we headed to the coast to sea kayak around the pockets of the island. Our guide, Lucia, took us to a few swimming spots and finally a small island that we hiked to the top of. There, we rappelled down the side of a huge cliff back into the water. Emma was INCREDIBLE at this activity, and completely conquered her fear of heights. The fear in her eyes slowly turned to pure joy as she descended the cliff. Evie was a cheerleader during this activity, always giving encouraging words to everyone who was a little more nervous about the heights. Larken also killed this activity – in fact, she did it so fearlessly that I’m starting to think her fear of heights during rock climbing could have been phony. I’m proud to say that we all made it down the side of the cliff – just in time to enjoy a delicious homemade meal at Lucia’s house on the water. Ella raved about this lunch, claiming it was some of the best food she has ever eaten. And we all had to agree with that. After lunch, we stopped at a small market to grab some of our favorite Croatian snacks. Caroline headed straight to the chocolate section and grabbed her (and my) new favorite chocolate brand, a Dorina chocolate bar. After loading up on snacks, we headed back to the campsite for a relaxing afternoon. However, some of us were still energized and ready for fun, so we headed down to the water by our campsite to do some cliff jumping. Again, Cole took the lead here finding new spots, and Caroline gave all the guys a run for their money with her fearless attempt at every jump the boys tried. While some people were jumping, Thompson and Sumpter were involved in a fish-catching competition, seeing who could catch a fish first with no supplies except the things you could find on the beach. While neither of them was ultimate successful at catching a fish, they did come up with some cool ways to make a fishing net.
On our last day together, we woke up early and headed to the coast to catch a ferry back to Old Town Dubrovnik. After getting to Dubrovnik and dropping our stuff at our hostel, we all headed into the city to see what these castles were all about. Our tour guide, Nino, told us about the backstory of the ancient castles in Old Town Dubrovnik, and introduced us to the area. Then, it was time for some shopping. Jacob made the most of this time, returning with some very snazzy Croatian souvenirs, including a Croatia water polo cap that he proceeded to wear for the rest of the trip. Then, we headed to our final banquet dinner at a restaurant in Old Town Dubrovnik. Over some amazing dishes of local Croatian specialties, we all reminisced on our memories from the trip and the relationships we have made. It was incredibly picturesque – the sun slowly set over the castles as we feasted like kings in Old Town Dubrovnik. After dinner, we enjoyed an extra-long last Moonup, and cherished our final moments together.
This morning was a tough one, as we woke early in preparation to all go our separate ways. Each and every one of us is ending this trip with some of the best memories and friendships we could imagine. It’s hard to believe this group has been together for only 14 days. Yet, while our days together have come to an end, we all know that the relationships we have made on this trip are just getting started.
Again, we want to thank you for sharing your wonderful kids with us. This group is a special one—and we know we will keep in such great touch in the future. CRO 1A forever! We love you guys!
Best wishes to all of you,
Mary Clarke and Sumpter
June 17, 2022
Bok family and friends!
The past few days of our Croatian adventure have been an absolute dream. After finishing our kayaking section on the Mreznica River, we headed into Paklenica National Park for our backpacking section. On our first day in the mountains, the group crushed a very treacherous climb up to our mountain hut that became our home for the next few nights. Thomas led the way in this hike, keeping the group motivated and entertained as we faced the steep incline. After a day of hiking, and some in-hike entertainment by our joke master, John, the group made it to our mountain hut by dinner. The view was breath-taking and everyone is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to wake up to this amazing site every morning. The group was welcomed in very quickly as well by our amazing hosts. And, after the hosts welcomed us in to their home, Ella welcomed the hosts into our group by teaching them how to make friendship bracelets, a favorite activity of our group. For dinner our first night, we had an authentic Croatian dish, Hot Peka, and absolutely loved it. Cole made it in the clean plate club, per usual, and was raving about the deliciousness of this meal.
We started the next day with a fresh brew of their famous Turkish coffee, which Emma adventurously tried, even though she is not the biggest coffee fan. After breakfast, we packed our bags for a day hike that had some incredible views of Paklenica that we hadn’t seen before. The kids killed the hike, and Caroline kept the group energized even after 8 hours of hiking. We hit the bed early that night after a long day of hiking, and in preparation for another long day ahead of us.
The next morning we woke up early to start our hike. Evie led the pack and kept everyone else’s spirits high, engaging everyone in some amazing trail conversations. Yet again, we had an incredible view at the top of the mountain, and we took it in by enjoying lunch at its peak. After returning back to the mountain hut, the group went to a swimming hole nearby to dip our toes in and cool ourselves off after a sunny hot day. Jacob took this opportunity to ice bathe his legs after the soreness of hiking, and the group joined in on it. We feasted like kings that night and were served a big heaping of pasta with meat, tons of bread, and sipped on teas that were made from flowers that were picked from around our mountain hut.
The next morning, we packed up our stuff, said our goodbyes to our hospitable hosts and headed back down the mountain. Right before we got to the base, we enjoyed a rock climbing session in one of the most famous rock climbing locations in Europe (Paklenica National Park). Larken conquered some big fears that day, climbing the wall even with her fear of heights, and had a smile on their face the whole time. Carter was the team cheerleader, motivating everyone to climb, and cheering for everyone when they got to the top. Hardy enjoyed the rock climbing session in a bit of a different way, after he discovered a popsicle shop nearby and indulged in some delicious Croatian popsicles. He definitely got the energy and sugar he needed to climb that wall. After we finished up climbing, we had lunch at a local climbers spot and headed to our hotel by the Adriatic for the night.
The next day we hit the road and began our adventures kayaking on the Zrmanja River. The views were outstanding, and the water was crystal clear. Everyone was commenting on how crazy it was that they could see all the way to the bottom even though it was so deep you couldn’t swim down to it. As leader of the day, Scarlett proudly led the pack on the river, keeping count of everyone and motivating them to get to the end. Thompson created a mini game while the river got a little slow and had a water fight with the rafts around him. By lunch time, everyone was involved with this splashing game, laughing and all splashing each other with our paddles. We soon made it to our lodging for the night, some amazing bungalows right on the water. After dinner and Moonup, we headed to bed to prepare for our island adventures that start tomorrow.
It’s wild to think that this group met just one week ago. If someone were to see this group of people on the streets, they would have to assume that we are siblings or best friends, rather than people who had just met. We’re looking forward to the next few days, but don’t want it to end! This group definitely has something special.
We have provided some shoutouts from everyone below!
Mary Clarke and Sumpter
Evie – Hi I miss you guys. I’m having a really fun time see you soon. Love y’all.
Jacob – Hi I am having so much fun on trip. I miss you guys.
Emma – Hey Mom and Dad, I miss y’all so much, but I’m having the best time! Love y’all!
Caroline – Hey y’all I miss you so much but I am having so much fun! See you next week and love you!
Scarlett – Hi Mom and Dad! I’m having so much fun and I miss y’all so much! See you soon! Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
Thompson – Wuddup, I’m having lots of fun and can’t wait to see everyone again.
Thomas – Hello parents, I’m having a lot of fun. Happy Father’s Day Papa love you. Hello Clara I know you are reading this we miss you.
Carter – Hey Mom and Dad. I am having so much fun! See you in a couple days and happy early Father’s Day!! <3
Larken – Hi Mom and Dad!! Miss you guys, Happy Father’s Day! I’m having the best time ever!
John – Hi Mom and Dad I’m alive. I’m having fun on the sickest trip. Happy Father’s Day Pops, love you. Shout out Clara-head
Hardy – Hey Mom and Dad. I’m having the time of my life. I love you guys and Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Cole – Hey Mom and Dad! I’m learning a lot about myself on this trip and enjoying every second of it.
Ella – Hey Mom, I am having so much fun here but I miss you and everyone especially the dogs. Give Austin some pets for me.
June 13, 2022
Bok (Hello) from Croatia!
Since touching down in Zagreb 3 days ago, the group has been off and running in the beautiful land of Croatia. The trip started with 2 long travel days. As our bodies were adjusting after a red eye flight and a new time zone, Thomas and John kept us all awake and energized with their constant jokes and positive vibes. And the chocolate croissants in the Amsterdam airport definitely helped revive us all after an overnight flight from America. The group has been cohesive since the start, and these two travel days gave us just the bonding time we needed. Upon touching down in Zagreb, we met up with Carter and Sumpter, and our group was officially complete!
After landing in Zagreb mid-day, we did some currency exchanges and headed right to our first campsite, a serene spot right by the river. Cole and Thompson made the most of this incredible location by polar plunging into the chilly water right when we arrived at camp. Our lodging provided us with the perfect comfort food dinner upon our arrival, a delicious dish of spaghetti Bolognese. Caroline was keeping the conversations going at dinner, always making efforts to talk to a new person at the table. After filling our bellies and finishing our first Moonup, we all jumped into our sleeping bags and got some much-needed sleep after all of our travel.
Day 1 of our activities began with a delicious breakfast of chocolate croissants and hot chocolate. Carter started off the morning with a bang by doing a morning plunge into the river. Our first night was a damp one, with rain coming down on our tents for most of the night. But the kids made the most of this and were all talking about how the sound of rain lulled them to sleep. Scarlett helped keep this energy high, always focusing on the positives and being down to complete anything in our activities. Even though the rain caused us to slightly change our plans, we were still able to complete our kayaking activity on the lower part of the wonderful Mreznica River. Cole and Larken, our first leaders of the day, were a power duo in their kayak, perfectly navigating down the small waterfalls we encountered. After we finished this activity, we headed back to camp, and Hardy kept the energy high in the bus, constantly requesting his favorite rap songs and singing along. We had a Croatian rendition of cheeseburgers and fries for lunch, then headed to a local town by our campsite to go purchase some necessities. On the bus ride there and back, Ella put on a hair salon in the back seat, giving everyone, boys included, some wonderful braids, which most of them are still wearing as we write this. Back at camp, Larken pulled out her friendship bracelet supplies and generously shared them with all of us. We had a great dinner at our camp and completed a peaceful Moonup by the river featuring some tunes on the guitar by Mary Clarke. But the night wasn’t complete without Jacob getting the guys to partake in his nightly workout rituals of post-dinner crunches and squats. This activity is one that has become key to our nightly routines. After all the activity, we headed to our tents to rest up for our first hiking day the next day.
The next morning, we woke up early, had a delicious breakfast of omelets and croissants, then loaded the van for our next adventure. We headed to a national park to check out some beautiful lakes and waterfalls. Our guides described this park as the Grand Canyon of Croatia, and, after experiencing the incredible sights this park had to offer, we can agree with that statement. Emma engaged everyone on the trail in good conversation and kept everyone energized throughout our hike. Evie led the pack throughout our hike the whole day, impressing our guides with her fast hiking pace. After making it around the park loop, we jumped back in the van and headed to our next campsite, some amazing bungalows just down the road.
It’s crazy to think that this group met just 3 days ago. Our group dynamics and cohesiveness are already so evident in the activities we have completed. Tomorrow we are heading into our next challenge – a 4 day backpacking adventure! We know that the kids are so ready for this, and that it will bring us even closer as a group. We are so excited for this adventure!
Mary Clarke and Sumpter
June 9, 2022
Hello Croatia Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Zagreb today and is on their way to their first lodging site. We have heard from our leaders 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