June 21, 2022
Our dear Croatia 1B friends and families,
With the kids officially on their way home, our Croatian adventure is now over. While we may not physically be together anymore, the memories made and the friendships formed during these two weeks do not end here. Instead, they will surely last a lifetime.
Our time on Mljet island was unforgettable. We arrived on the “Green Island” via ferry, then settled into our beautiful campsite soon after. On our first evening by the sea, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of fresh bread, salad, vegetables, and various meats that was then followed by ice cream. We then had a scenic beachside Moonup, where our LOD Alston asked the insightful question, “What/who means the most to you.” Our evening was concluded with a silly game called “Shmodus,” with Polly being the final victor.
We arose the next morning eager to explore the island coast. Lathered in sunscreen and water bottles in hand, we hopped into our kayaks ready to paddle through the Adriatic Sea. Ryder was especially excited to sea kayak, as he had never been sea kayaking before! Midway through our paddle, we stopped upon the shore to snorkel and swim. Caitlyn had never snorkeled before and quickly became enthusiastic about the activity. After our time cooling off in the crystal-clear waters, we jumped back into our boats to head to a different island. At this next stop, we hiked up to an incredible view, where our guide surprised us with cold, fresh fruit—the perfect refreshing snack for a hot day on the sea. Finally, we loaded into our boats once again and headed back towards our starting point to eat lunch. This lunch may have been the best meal of the entire trip. Fresh cheese, prosciutto, anchovies, tuna, tuna pâté, olives, tartar sauce, and the fluffiest bread all homemade by our kayaking guide’s family—YUM! Not to mention that we enjoyed this meal while relaxing on a beautiful porch that overlooked the Adriatic. Ana and Worth were especially fans of this meal, as they both loved the homemade bread (Worth got two full loaves of homemade gluten-free bread for himself!!) After kayaking, we headed back to camp, taking some time to relax in the shade. We then headed to the beach, where Amory and Ella spent some time journaling and reading while others, including Hunter, bravely jumped off a raised dock into the water. Delightfully exhausted from the day full activity, all appreciated our tortellini dinner that night.
Our last day full day on Mljet was bitter-sweet. This place had begun to feel like home, and everyone we encountered here felt like family — especially our gracious campsite host who gifted us with bay leaves and bracelets before our departure. For our final day on the Green Island, we went for an explorative hike through the Mljet National Park, then refreshed ourselves with ice cream and a swim in the islands’ famous lakes. Upon returning to camp after a long day of adventure, we devoured a delicious pasta dish, spiced by our special spice master Hays, then concluded the day with Moonup on the shore. For our final day of adventure, we left the wilderness and ferried into the city of Dubrovnik. After a filling lunch of pizza and burgers, we headed to the Old Town of Dubrovnik, the beautifully historic portion of the city that dates to the 14th century! In the Old Town, we walked atop the famous city wall, picked up some silly souvenirs, and of course cooled down with gelato. We then celebrated our trip with a special banquet dinner and dessert at a local restaurant. Our evening concluded with our final Moonup in the park, where Jenks expressed how grateful she was for the opportunity to explore Croatia with such special people. It was surely a heartfelt Moonup, as we all reflected on our past two weeks together and all the amazing friendships formed.
Finally, we want to say thank you so much for sharing your children with us (Cat & Miles) this summer! They truly are incredible individuals and were a joy to lead. We’ve truthfully seen them transform into more confident, true-to-themselves teens over the past two weeks and couldn’t be happier about it. Kids — have a great rest of the summer and stay in touch!
Until next time,
Cat & Miles
2022 Croatia 1B
June 17, 2022
Hello again from beautiful Croatia! Although It hasn’t been long since we last checked in, the past few days have been filled with non-stop activity and fun.
After a fun day kayaking down the waterfalls of the Zrmanja river, we had a wonderful evening full of s’mores and games. The next morning, we woke up and headed to our next destination, Paklenica National Park. Now in the southern part of the Velebit Mountain Range, we spent the first half of our day rock climbing. The kids embraced the challenge of the rocks, and even competed against one another in a speed climbing competition — congrats to Ana for being the speediest girl on the rocks!
After climbing, we enjoyed lunch by a creek, then put on our packs to trek up to Mario’s mountain hut. This hike was not easy with steep inclines and the hot sun shining on us from above, but the kids continuously kept a positive attitude and climbed with vigor. Ella, one of our LODs for the day, especially did a great job encouraging the group, and Alston helped keep the group distracted from the challenge with some fun riddles. The best part of our trek was definitely when we turned around the bend of the trail to find our group of French friends that we previously met a few days before — what are the odds! It was a hilarious moment indeed seeing them again. Finally, after around 2 hours of hiking, we reached our final destination— a hut atop the mountain. However, this is no ordinary mountain hut. Instead, it is a special hut run by the friendliest man you will ever meet, Mario. The hut is over 110 years old and has been in Mario’s family for 4 generations!
Once settled into our home for the night, we hiked down to a little pool for a refreshing swim. While the water was a bit frigid, Jenks and Polly fearlessly jumped in first and encouraged everyone else to follow behind. After cooling off in the water, the kids retreated to the hut for several rounds of Bocce ball and to enjoy some delicious candied almonds made by Mario’s wife. Hunter and Worth especially were fans of the sweet treat and agreed that no candied almonds in the US could even compare to these ones! Also, during our time of relaxation, Amory made sure to get down everyone’s names and phone numbers so we can all stay connected once the trip is over. My description of our time at Mario’s hut cannot be complete without describing our dinner for the night— Peka cooked ‘under the bell.’ This traditional Croatian dish includes chicken, veal, potatoes, and vegetables all cooked slowly together under a hood (the ‘bell’) that is covered in burning coal. Our special chefs, Caitlyn and Ryder, were monumental in helping Mario prepare this impeccable dish. At last, we ended the evening with Moonup, where we discussed our favorite movie lines and where we feel most like ourselves. It was so interesting to hear everyone’s answers, including how Hays feels most like himself while watching the Memphis Grizzlies play basketball!
Today, we leave the mountains and head to the coast to go sea kayaking around Mljet island. It is a bittersweet feeling moving into the final section of our trip, as we have grown so close over the past week and a half. Thank you so much for sharing your kids with us for two weeks— they’re truly incredible.
-Cat and Miles
And now, some thank you shoutouts from them!!
Caitlyn-Hey guys! This is another trip update! Thank you both for having me on this trip it’s definitely once in a lifetime type stuff! Thank you shain and love you see you soon! Love your PPC and Big Timer.
Ana-Thank you for sending me on this trip I’m having a lot of fun! Love you and see you soon!
Polly- hey mom and dad I’m having the best time ever in Croatia thank you so much for letting me go on this trip!! Can’t wait to see y’all soon!! Miss and love y’all
Jenks- hey guys! I miss y’all so much thank you for sending me on this trip it is so amazing. I will be home soon I love you!
Ella- Hey! Miss you guys lots! thanks for giving me the opportunity to explore Croatia. I have had so much fun. Love you!
Amory – hey mom and dad! Thanks so much for sending me on this trip it has been the best time ever!! Miss y’all and see y’all soon!
Worth – Hey guys, I can’t wait to see you in a few days! It’s been so great getting to go on this trip in Croatia. I never expected it to be so diverse and beautiful. Thanks for sending me on this trip.
Ryder- Hey team I’m having a great time in Croatia and I’ve gotten to meet some really cool people I just wanted to say thanks for sending me all the way here and I will see you guys in just a few days
Alston- What’s up guys I’m having a great time in Croatia and have met a ton of really fun people Thanks so much for allowing me to go in this trip I appreciate it tons!!
Hays- hey McFam Croatia is actually soooo coo and I got a gift for you guys when we see each other. Thanks so much for sending me to heaven
Hunter-hey thank you so much for letting me go on this trip it’s super fun and everyone is nice. Love the beautiful views.
June 15, 2022
Croatia 1B friends and families,
WOW! It is hard to believe that we are over halfway through our trip. It has been an adventure-packed past few days since we last checked in, and we are looking forward to all the excitement to come in our final week together. Although we are sad to have to say goodbye to Mack, we are wishing him a quick recovery and are so grateful for the time we shared!
On day 4 of the trip, we ventured from the Plitvice lakes to the Mrežnica River for a fun day of river kayaking. With clear blue skies and perfect weather, the fresh temperature of the water was the perfect match for a sunny day. The river was relatively calm, but also included gorgeous, small waterfalls for us to raft down for an adrenaline rush. Along the river, we stopped for our lunch break, then continued along until we reached our destination.
After kayaking, the kids were surprised with a special riverside treat—ice cream! While enjoying their sweet snacks, everyone embraced their inner child, playing games and tag on a playground. Jenks and Polly especially enjoyed the silly time, lurching one another on a teeter-totter. Finally, after releasing all the energy from our ice cream-sugar rush, we headed to our next campsite for the night. This campsite was a fan favorite for all our foodies, especially Alston. With Bolognese for dinner and the freshest croissants and omelets for breakfast, it was hard not to love.
The next day, we continued our journey and drove to Velebit National Park. I don’t think anyone in our group expected to arrive at such a beautiful place. With tall green pines, white rock mountains, the most vibrant green grass, and views of the Adriatic, every moment here was stunning. After settling into our mountain hut, we immediately started exploring the area with an afternoon hike. We reached two different peaks on our first trek here, both offering full 360o views of the mountains and sea that were undoubtfully awe-inspiring. After the trek, we enjoyed a traditional Croatian dish for dinner and watched the most stunning sunset with the red-orange sun coming down over the Adriatic Sea and the almost-full moon rising over the mountains. We concluded the evening with a Moonup led by our LODs Worth and Ella, who had us share funny stories about how we wake ourselves up in the morning.
The next day we set off again for another beautiful trek. While the hike was expected to take close to 5 hours, it only took our speedy group around 3.5 hours! This gave us plenty of time to relax back at our mountain hut, learning an Ecuadorian card game taught by Ana and enjoying Croatian peanut puffs, one of Amory’s new favorite snacks. Dinner tonight, a Croatian tuna pasta, was incredible, especially with the spices added by our very own MasterChef Hays. Our night finished with a short hike so that we could have a special Moonup with a view. Once again, the sunset was inspiring and had us all feeling grateful for this wonderful experience.
Our last day at our mountain hut was bittersweet, as this small mountainside house had truly begun to feel like a home. The group went into our final hike with enthusiasm, ready to take on the 9+ miles ahead of us. A highlight of the day was meeting a group of friendly French backpackers who were intrigued by the concept of Moondance. Ryder especially enjoyed his time being able to practice his French with them. Tonight, we had another special dinner called goulash, a type of Croatian stew, prepared by Caitlyn and Hunter. Everyone rushed back for seconds, and it was indeed voted the group’s favorite meal thus far.
Next, we head to the Zrmanja river, to rest our legs and enjoy another day of kayaking!
Cat & Miles
Now, some shoutouts from the kids:
Hunter: “Miss you guys and hope to see you soon”
Jenks: “Hi mom and dad I miss you and love you so much. I am having the best time!”
Ella: “Miss you and love you lots. I love it here!”
Polly: “Miss you and love you so much. This has been the best trip ever!”
Amory: “Hey mom and dad! Miss y’all! I am having so much fun, see you soon!”
Ana: “Love you and miss you but I’m having a great time!”
Worth: “Hey guys, I’m having so much fun hiking and kayaking here. Croatia is beautiful! Can’t wait to see you in a week”
Caitlyn: “Miss you guys so much and love you to the moon and back! Croatia is so fun and can’t wait to tell you all about it!”
Alston: “Yooooo what’s up guys. Hope y’all are having a good time in CLT. I’m loving Croatia and my group and can’t wait to see y’all soon”
Hays: “What’s up fam! I’m doing ite. Croatia is a really cool place, and we should go as a family some time. I took a lot of good photos for y’all and I’ll bring back some Kuna—Croatian money. The counselors told me that Alaska is the hardest Moondance by far and y’all signed Mike up for an extra week ha! I’ll see y’all in a cuppa days goodbye!
Ryder: “Sup Mom and Dad I’m having a great time in Croatia and to be honest we got a great group of guys. Love you and tell Cass I miss him too.”
June 10, 2022
Pofzdrav iz hrvatske — Greetings from Croatia! What an incredible first three days it has been with our mighty group of 14. Right away, our group bonded in the Atlanta airport, and we could tell this was going to be the trip of a lifetime together. Amory was the first student to arrive in Atlanta and made sure to make everyone who followed her feel immediately welcomed. With Chick-fila and some sweet snacks on hand, we all boarded our first plane eager to arrive in Europe. Finally, after hours in the air watching movies, enjoying surprisingly yummy plane meals, and attempting to nap, we landed in Amsterdam. Here we refueled with croissants, coffee, and gained a new addition to our group, Worth, who immediately bonded with everyone else.
Eventually it was time for the home stretch of our journey—our flight to Zagreb, Croatia! When we landed our excitement immediately overrode any sentiment of jet-lag we were feeling. We were so grateful to have finally arrived in Croatia, and to meet the final member of our group, Hunter, who enjoyed some intense rounds of Hacky-Sack in the Zagreb airport with our fearless leader Miles while waiting for the group.
Finally united, we had a scenic drive to our first campsite, enjoying views of gigantic waterfalls, vibrant blue lakes, and gorgeous mountains along the way. Although you might expect everyone to be silent on the bus after such a long journey, that was surely not the case with our group. Eager to continue getting to know one another, everyone was engaged in conversation on our drive. Specifically, Caitlyn and our leader Cat bonded about their love for running, as Caitlyn recently started running track and really enjoys it!
Once we arrived at our ‘bungalows,’ the kids continued to bond with some fun card games, taught to the group by Mack. Eventually it was dinner time, where we enjoyed our first official Croatian meal together—cheese, bread, meat, salad, grilled chicken, potatoes, and ice cream. Easy to say we were all stuffed and ready to go to bed after dinner! But of course, before retreating to our bungalows after a long two days of travel, we ended the night with our first group Moon-up.
We woke up the next day feeling well rested and ready for our first real adventure together, a scenic hike around the lakes of Plitvice National Park. Alston and Ana, our two LODs (Leaders of the Day) got us ready for our trek by reading a wonderful quote about having a positive mindset. Hays kept the group motivated throughout the day, as he set the pace and led the pack almost the entire hike. Ryder and Polly kept us entertained, as they sang a silly song they made up on the trails about Moondance. Ella shared about her love for travel and how glad she was to add Croatia to her list of adventures, and Jenks kept us present with her observant comments about the incredible views around us. After an amazing day of hiking along the clear waters of Plitvice, we headed back to our bungalows to relax and play games.
Although we are only at the beginning of our two weeks together, we can already tell this group has something special about it. It’s a joy to see such life-long friendships being made, and we cannot wait for the rest of our adventure in Croatia!
Cat & Miles
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