July 6, 2022
Hi there everyone!
I can’t believe that it is already time to write our final update. It seems like just yesterday we were doing polar plunges in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, and just now I am writing this after a long and teary morning as those same people struggled to let go and head their own ways. It has been a beautiful and heartfelt journey with this group, and we certainly did end it in style!
Our day of canyoning did not disappoint as we repelled down waterfalls, jumped off rocks, and explored the many caverns that the area had to offer. We also got to celebrate the Fourth of July as much as we could by wearing some festive bandanas and American flag tattoos on our adventure. Our guides even got in the spirit too! The day was a bit of a scorcher, so the cool water was given a warm welcome, especially by Audrey and Hugo who were first to lie down in the river and let some cool water rush into their wetsuits! We hiked down the river to our first rappel, and Annie bravely stepped up as the first student down the waterfall! She cheered the whole way down and was quickly joined by the others as they hooped and hollered their way down the falls. Wins was especially enthusiastic when he came down the rappel, shouting “this is awesome” as he came down the line! We entered into a deeper section of the canyon and were surrounded by the beautiful canyon walls that echoed every sound you made. Feeling inspired by the Fourth of July, Hugo started singing the star spangled banner and everyone joined in. In no time, the whole group was singing in harmony, creating what Alex likes to say, “a core memory.” Rachel and I saw an adorable little frog and Hart even played with a little tadpole as we continued on our canyon journey. We sang and danced our way through the canyon and arrived at a jumping rock! Hart, feeling inspired by all he had been able to accomplish on this trip, officially conquered his fear of heights when he jumped off the highest rock like a total pro! Audrey did a beautiful toe touch off the jump that made her look like a levitating ballerina! After everyone got a turn to jump, we headed down the river and ended our canyoning. Our fun, however, was just getting started as we had a classic Italian Fourth of July picnic! We listened to genuine country music while eating our sandwiches at the table and recounted our favorite July fourth memories. While he was vlogging the festivities on Ivey’s GoPro, she surprised George by pouring some juice right on his hair that started a full-on water battle! Before I knew it, Vivi and Alex were chasing each other around with their water bottles while Wins sang some David Alan Koe – now that is how you celebrate a holiday! We listened to music and ate gelato once we got back to the hotel and continued the festivities into dinner time. Our LODs, Annie and Alex, led us in a gorgeous Moonup under the setting sun that dipped slowly behind the mountains. This was the most fitting background as we listened to everyone talk about their favorite moments on the trip and how they’ve grown in their time together in the mountains. After running and playing outside a bit, we drifted off to bed, excited for our day in the city!
The next morning, the kids were so excited that most of them were already up and moving before we even came in to wake them! We loaded up on chocolate croissants and hot chocolate and hit the road, leaving the mountains behind. We took a water taxi once arriving and after dropping our stuff off at the hostel, we quickly turned it around to grab an authentic Italian lunch! Every kid ordered a pizza for themselves as well as some pasta and certainly had their work cut out for them! Hart and Wins really shined as they finished both of their meals – forever securing their spots in the clean plate club! After lunch, we split into two groups. The girls shopped til they dropped and the boys spent time searching for the classiest souvenirs they could find. Some of the shopping highlights included some lovely matching bracelets for the girls, Wins and Rachel- no doubt inspired by yesterday- got some cute tiny glass animals, and lots and lots of gelato stops were made as well! After frolicking and singing together by the shore, we skipped our way to our beautiful banquet spot and all sat down family style to enjoy our last official meal together. The dinner was full of laughs, toasts, and even a few tears as we reminisced on how much fun we had together. We walked through San Marco one last time and took a moment to soak it all in. Lulu said that it was something out of a dream, and it certainly did feel that way, especially after seven scoops of ice cream… don’t worry-they were small scoops! We walked, arm in arm, back toward our hostel and settled by the water for our last Moonup of the trip. During this special Moonup, we got to encourage one another, express our love for each other, and tell the people who have impacted our lives just how much they mean to us. George and I even got to perform a song we wrote for the group to the tune of country roads, of course. We cried until our eyes were all dried up and held each other tightly, for there is no telling when we will see each other again, but I think that there is a lot of beauty that lies in that fact. Something we have reflected on a lot lately is that these friendships are like shooting stars – they shine brightly in your life and then in a blink, they are gone. Unlike shooting stars, however, I have a sneaky feeling that we will all be seeing each other again in the future, at least, I very much hope that will be the case. Thank you all for giving us the chance to get to know your incredible children. It has been such a privilege sharing this adventure with them! Thank you 2B- you’re a 3 ice cream scoop kind of group! We love you so much, don’t be strangers!
Ciao for now,
MC and George
July 3, 2022
It feels like a lifetime ago that we were updating you all on our days, what an adventure it has been! After writing to you last, we continued our trekking journey with a stellar day hike. Italy graced us with another beautiful day with clear blue skies and a nice cool breeze. We started off on a trail right next to our Refugio that took us up into the mountains just behind. Along the way, Hugo spotted a nice bright orange flower which was actually a rare flower called the Saint John Lillium! We continued up the path and marveled over the flora and fauna we got to Encounter; Ivey called it a, “fairy hollow.” Over the course of the day, the inseparable trio consisting of Wins, Hugo, and Hart temporarily became a quartet as they bonded with our newest guide, Paulo! While the boys chatted away, the girls sang songs and played games the whole way to the summit! The girls have been sporting matching braids expertly done by Audrey, Annie, and Alex, and they were more in sync than ever! We took in the view…and took just a couple pictures, before summiting a mountain nearby. We headed down a different route and chose the perfect lunch spot surrounded by green pastures, flowers, and- oh that’s right- a whole parade of cows! Ivey and Vivi captured it all on their cameras as the cows strolled by, strutting in the summer sun. We ate our lunches until we decided to move again, but we sure were sad to leave the parade of cow bells behind. While the girls sped ahead, the boys chose to take their time on the trail. I sure am glad they lingered because we ended up walking through a massive herd of goats! Hugo got down on all fours to try to assimilate with them whereas Wins took a more friendly approach and pet the goats with a smile on his face. Hart stayed alert for the alpha goat in the pack. We told stories about our goat adventures all the way back to the Refugio and even got a picturesque greeting from Lulu and Alex as they waved help from the window above. After a delicious and filling dinner, our LODs, Ivey and Wins, led our beautiful Moonup at the base of a large mountain just in front of the Refugio. We got to share warm childhood memories and played games until we had to head in for some much needed shut eye!
The next day was an early morning as we geared up for our final full day of trekking to our last Refugio. The Refugio sits on top of a tall cliff, and as such, required lots of uphill hiking. Although today was not our longest day of hiking, it certainly proved to be the most challenging, and the most rewarding! The boys embraced the challenge as they decided they would try and keep pace with our lead mountain guide Michele up the steepest section of our climb. Somehow they all managed to keep up with him, but needed a large breather once they reached the top all while Michele sat there chuckling. Along the hike there was a natural spring out of which fresh and pristine mountain water flowed. Audrey and Mary Claire made sure to top off their water bottles and enjoy the icy cold refreshment. Shortly after, we all made our way down some windy switchback trails that lead us directly to one of the bluest lakes I’ve ever seen. The sunlight twinkled off of it beautifully as we all sat enjoying a well-earned lunch break. After our bellies were full, we basked in the hot sun, and some of us even dozed off. However, we still had one last section to hike before we reached our beds for the night, and it was our longest ascent. Annie and Rachel made sure to share words of encouragement with everyone as we sweated our way up the hills. Hart even ran the kart leg of the hill all the way to the top! When we reached the top I had to do a double take when looking at my watch because of how quickly we got up the mountain. Although I can’t say for sure, I think we might have set a Moondance record for the quickest group up the mountain!
Mary Claire and I are so proud of the group and all the hard work they have put in, we truly could not have asked for a more positive group of kids! Everyone was rewarded with some relaxing music and a nap / chat session in our bunk room. Ivey and Lulu had some personal relaxation time down in an open field as a tanning session turned into a nice snooze. We all waited patiently for dinner, with the last couple of minutes seeming like an eternity as we had all built up such an appetite. Unsurprisingly, dinner did not disappoint! Everyone got different things, but the garlic chili spaghetti and the ragu pasta were the clear favorites at tonight’s dinner! Very shortly after we had been served, everyone’s plate was as clean; everyone had just inhaled their meals like a vacuum cleaner. Next on the agenda was Moonup. Tonight’s Moonup was led by Lulu and Hart at the top of the hill. Although most of our Moonups take place with a sunset, and we usually say each time that it was the best sunset yet, tonight’s sunset was undoubtedly the best yet. The sun covered the valley below and the clouds above in a golden pink hue as the wind softly blew past us. As we enjoyed the sunset, we discussed dream pets and got to learn about each other’s perceived roles in our family. Rachel and Hugo especially felt the draw towards the sunset as they took some extra time to appreciate the beauty around them. Feeling the closeness of the day, we ended with some late night chatting outside of the Refugio, reflecting on the time we have spent with each other as the final days of the trip began to approach. We went to bed with smiles, feeling so grateful for what this time has brought us.
Just like that, we began our last day of trekking- our bittersweet goodbye to such beautiful mountains and the amazing mountain guides we’d had along the way. The trek today was a polar opposite of yesterdays as it was entirely downhill. This change in pace, and direction, was well received by everyone as we easily chatted, following the river. The adorable dogs we saw along the trails reminded us of our own pets, and we told stories all day long about our fuzzy companions back at home. Once we reached the end of our trek, we said a teary-eyed goodbye to our wonderful guides and headed toward the river- our next stop on this glorious adventure!
We arrived in a quaint, Italian town just in time to snag some delicious gelato! We snacked and rested until dinner time, feeling grateful for some slow time together. Wins, Hart, MC, and Hugo even explored the town a bit and hung out in the shade before heading in for our meal. Dinner was delicious and provided with a view! Keeping the positive energy up, our LODs, Audrey and Hugo, led us in another gorgeous sunset Moonup near a local fountain where we got to share our biggest takeaways from our short, but sweet time together. As I listened to the group talk about how much they have grown to love each other and our world, my heart swelled with joy and appreciation for such this special group of people. The kids may thank you all below, but we just want to make sure to say thank you to all of you, too, for sending your incredible kids on this trip. It has been such a pleasure! Tomorrow we are off to the canyon, until next time!
Mary Claire and George
Vivi- Hi fam thank y’all so much for letting me come on this trip. I’ve had so much fun and I can’t
wait to see y’all. Today was our last day of hiking and we’re otw to canyoneering see y’all soon
Alex- Hey everyone! I’m so grateful for this trip. Thanks so much for this opportunity, I’ve had
the absolute best time. This trip has been an eye opener for me. Love and miss y’all. See you
Lander- Hi guys!! I’m still having the best time of my life and I’m so so so grateful I get to
experience this; I’ve really learned a lot on this trip and can’t wait to share with y’all. Love y’all
and can’t wait to see everyone soon. ❤️
Ivey- Hey familyy! Thank you so so much for sending me on this trip! I have had the best time
and have met the most amazing people. I’m soooo thankful and can’t wait to see y’all soon!
Love y’all… alsoooo happy late birthday mom!!!
Annie- hey family! Thank y’all so much for giving me this opportunity to go on this trip! It has
truly been the most insane experience I have ever had and I’m super sad to leave! Miss y’all a
lot and see y’all soon! Love y’all!
Audrey- hey Wilhelm fam! I love it here and I’m so grateful to y’all for letting me go on this
awesome trip! I’ve never been happier and I’m gonna be rlly sad to leave but excited to see y’all
soon. Thanks again, luv y’all!
Rachel- hey mom and dad! We are having so much fun and I am so thankful that y’all gave me
the opportunity to be here with everyone. We are going canyoneering tomorrow and then to
Venice but I can’t wait to see you guys. Y’all are the best love you!
Hugo- hey dudes. Having a lot of fun. Thanks so much for this opportunity to go on this trip. It’s
pretty sick. See you soon.
Hart- Hey mom and pops. Thank you guys for sending me here. It has been great; made a lot of
great friends. Italy has been great, the food is totally awesome. So much good pasta. Want to
learn how to make at home. Love you guys so much. I will reach out to you soon. Ps the pasta
is sick here -Hart
Wins- hey guys. I’ve been having a super fun time here in Italy. Thank you guys so much for
telling me about this and sending me here. Love you guys and can’t wait to see you soon!
June 30, 2022
George and MC here, and we are just beaming thinking about all that we have done in our short time together! These past couple of days have been some of the most incredible, jam-packed days we have ever had! Our second day of activity included an absolutely stellar hike full of 360 degree views the entire time! We sang all sorts of songs as we bounded down the trail, eager for what view lay around the corner. Rachel led the group and got to see all sorts of wildlife that the guide pointed out! Hart kept everyone laughing all day as we steadily made our way through the flower-filled mountains with big smiles on our faces. We arrived at our refugio that was nestled at the bottom of a grassy hill and took a well-deserved rest in the field, kept warm by the afternoon sun. Rachel got the award for the best nap as the boys sat in the shade of an old cable car. We fell in love with our adorable refugio that was complete with hand-painted doors, heart shaped keys, and some truly incredible pasta for dinner that Wins, Hugo, and Hart were heavily anticipating! After dinner, our LOD’s, Rachel and Wins, led a beautiful Moonup at the base of the buttercup-filled hill. To close our night, we played an intense game of “Down by the Banks” that celebrated the losers just as much as the winners of the game. Alex and Hart cheered everyone into the losers’ circle as the game slowly came down to MC and Lulu. In a tough competition, MC barely scraped by with a win, but Lulu was cheered into her spot as the newest loser with the rest of the group. We went to bed that night feeling accomplished of all we had done in the day, and I think everyone dreamed of flowers and fun as they dozed off.
The next day was definitely one to remember as we explored the tunnels carved out by the young Italian soldiers during WWI. We started our morning by taking a cable car up the majority of the mountain and then trekking to the summit! After many hoops and hollers, we all headed down the mountain and into the caves. Led by our headlamps, we walked down the stairs plunging deeper down the mountain. Vivi and I poked our heads out the natural windows and stood in awe of the beautiful hidden views just outside. After making it through the tunnels, we hiked to our next refugio, and the girls led the whole way there! At lunch, the boys got to know our guides while the girls had some incredible conversations by the placid mountain lake. Alex pointed out just how nice it is to be able to be yourself with this group and everyone was quick to agree! I am so grateful for the kids’ ability to let go and be their genuine selves- they truly are incredible! We spent our time on the trail cracking up as we all became our silliest versions of ourselves. Annie, Ivey, George, and I even started to collect rocks and give them names like Rockita, Rocky, Dwayne the “rock” Johnson, and my personal favorite: Rockfurt. We came down the mountain and arrived at our famous refugio which has the most spectacular view of Cinque Torri below. We decided that our arrival was worth celebrating, so George and I surprised everyone with some well-earned chocolate! We had a delicious three course meal for dinner and headed off to a sunset Moonup led by our excellent LOD’s, Vivi and Hugo. We talked about people that we would love to see again and what those relationships mean to us. Hugo brought everyone into the moment when he pointed out just how lucky we all are to be here, and we all nodded in agreement as we admired the sunset before us. We frolicked through the field after Moonup, determined to soak up all of the sun we could before it dipped below the mountains. When the day finally did come to a close, we hit the pillows hard and got our rest before another big day the next day.
Our second Via Ferrata brought some views that I don’t think anyone is going to forget any time soon. After loading up on an assortment of baked goods and parfaits, we headed for a nearby mountain to our slightly more challenging Via Ferrata than the one prior. The climb certainly proved to be worth it, for the view at the peak was just breathtaking. We all signed our names in the book located in a keepsake box at the summit, determined to let the world know of our accomplishments. Our LODs, Alex and Lulu, even took a picture with the book just to remember the amazing feeling of being way up there! We headed back down the mountain just in time for a wonderful pasta lunch that took our high spirits and lifted them even higher! After lunch, we headed down to Cinque Torri or “the five towers” to climb in one of the most famous and beautiful climbing locations in all of Italy! Annie and Audrey were first to climb, eager to scramble up the rocks to the top- way to go girls! Vivi made everyone so proud as she faced her fears and took on the rock with confidence and style! As mountain weather goes, the rain started rolling in, so we had to head back to our refugio a bit early. This group, however, took advantage of the free time and spent the afternoon getting to know each other better, feeling so happy just to be together. We were treated to another delicious dinner, and our LOD’s chose a beautiful spot for Moonup just up the hill from where we climbed earlier that day. We talked about which questions we wished people asked us more and noted that we can’t wait to ask each other these questions in the coming days. Sleep came easy as we drifted off, but not after a pre-birthday celebration for our main girl, Alex!
The next day started off with a bang as we woke everyone up to some awesome birthday music in honor of Alex’s 16th birthday. For breakfast we all wished her a happy birthday and ate some delicious donuts, chocolate croissants, and a multitude of other delicious pastries. Although it stormed all day and prevented us from going on our second day of rock climbing, we certainly made the best of the situation. We decided to hold the first annual “Camp Out”! Our camp out consisted of pillow fort building, cake & hot chocolate, storytelling, and a few other activities. The pillow fort, or house I should say, was something to behold. It consisted of three rooms all separated by blankets, and it was so large there wasn’t a square inch of our refugio room that was not covered in blankets, comforters, and pillows. In between the time spent in the fort and dinner, the boys all picked and created a lovely flower arrangement to give to Alex for her birthday. Everyone also wrote individual happy birthday notes that we gave to Alex at dinner time, along with a few small birthday gifts. Dinner was a ton of fun as well. We celebrated with handmade balloons (made from the gloves in the med kit) each with their own custom drawings and messages written on them. We also had some sparkling cider as part of the birthday bash! The dinner table was as loud as ever with nothing but laughs and smiles being exchanged between all of us. We finished off dinner with some chocolate cake for dessert, and I’m pretty sure I only blinked once and the next thing I knew everyone’s plate was clean. Once again, we were graced with a gorgeous sunset during Moonup as we all reflected on what an exciting day it had been. Mary Claire and I are so proud of everyone for maintaining such a positive attitude and embracing the spontaneous activities of the day as we all did our best to react to the altered schedule. Each and every one of these kids are truly wonderful and make being in the Dolomites that much sweeter in their own individual ways!
Today we woke up much earlier than the day before as we had a lot of ground to cover (seven whole miles)! Making sure everyone ate enough to fuel them up for the long day, we set back out on the trail a little sleepy, but ready to face the day. The sleepiness didn’t last very long as a steep ascent jump started everyone out of their early morning lull. Soon we had a solid rhythm and trail conversations began popping up all over as we trekked towards our next refugio. To everyone’s surprise, Hugo quite literally ran up one of the hills, and although it left him a little winded, everyone was impressed, nonetheless. After a quick and delicious trail side lunch, we picked up right where we left off, however this time it was the girls who led the way! They really picked up some impressive speed all the while holding deep conversations, stopping only to take pictures with the occasional herd of cows we passed. Today’s hike had a little bit of everything, uphill, fields, gravel roads, scree fields, downhill, and some beautiful forest sections as well. At one point Lulu even commented on how the forest felt like a wonderland or something out of “Twilight”! There were also so many beautiful wildflowers of every shape and color one could imagine. Ivey absolutely lit up while talking about them, and also spotted some wildlife as well! Finally, as we approached our home for the night, dreams of gelato became a reality as all the kids lined up for a cold refreshing sweet treat in honor of a job well done. Next came some R&R up in the room as we all took a load off listening to some sweet tunes with a few people deciding to take a nice cat nap before dinner. Those seven miles sure must have built up an appetite because I swear, I’ve never seen food disappear so fast! The mashed potatoes and the pumpkin ravioli were definitely the fan favorites among the kids, with the pork and Spätzle taking a close second. Finally, Rachel and Vivi gathered everyone out in a field resembling one that might be seen in The Sound Of Music. Sitting in our little circle we all shared our most precious and favorite childhood memories, which really warmed my heart. We finished off the day with a rhythm game that somehow ended in a free for all game of tag, except it wasn’t quite clear who was “it”. From a distance it really just looked like a bunch of crazy kids running around in a field… and wouldn’t have it any other way! We are so excited for what is to come, because if these past couple of days is any indication, it is sure to be filled with so much joy, love and a whole load of laughs!
Ciao until next time!
MC and George
Lulu- Hey mom, dad, and Reed! I miss y’all so much and I really wish that y’all could see these beautiful views! I’m having the best food of my life and I am so happy with my group. All of our Refugio’s are so so so nice and I really couldn’t be any happier. Tell emery that I also miss her too. Everywhere I turn is a beautiful view and I never want to leave! Can’t wait to see y’all soon and tell you all about it. Tell Sadie I miss her and I love y’all so much!
Alex- Hey y’all! I miss you guys so much and cannot wait to see you soon. I’m having the best time and have made the bestest of friends. Hoping my hamster is being tended too and being fed well. Anyways Italy is beautiful and the food and people are amazing. Kate how’s Jackson and also how are the dogs I miss them tons. My birthday was awesome. Love y’all!!❤️🔥 Ps could y’all make sure I have international Wi-Fi for the day we leave
Annie- Hey fam! I miss y’all a lot and hope y’all are all good! Having such a fun time and the views are insane. This group is great and so sweet! Take care of the dogs and make sure miller is thriving. The food here is so goood. Have a happy birthday Eleanor, love y’all so much!!
Ivey- Heyy fam jam and anyone reading this!! I know y’all have been dying for this update. I miss y’all a whole lot but I’m having the time of my life here. The views are crazy gorgeous and the food is unmatched. Our group is amazing and our leaders are soooo fun!!! I don’t wanna leave but see y’all soon! Love y’all sm ❤️ Ps could y’all make sure I have international Wi-Fi for the day we leave
Rachel- Hey familia! I’m having so much fun we just hiked like eight miles and now we’re at our third refugio. There are cows everywhere in the valleys. The food here is amazing you guys would love it so much. I love the group and our leaders everyone is the best. Say hi to Tucker and Jake for me. Love y’all see you soon!
Audrey- hey y’all! I’m having the best time ever in Italy it’s actually so pretty here lowkey like a greenscreen. The Refugio’s are so nice and our group has the best talks ever each night and the food here is fr bussin. We just arrived at our third refugio and have sadly finished our hiking and rock climbing section. On to canyoneering!! I miss y’all so much and love y’all! Tell B I’ll be home soon and I’m so excited to see her. ❤️🔥
Vivi- Hey fam I’m having the best time here! I miss y’all so much but everything is so great here. So far we have eaten some pretty bussin food and we are staying in different Rifugios and they’re really nice. Also it is so pretty here I have never seen anything like it. The hikes are so much fun even though they’re pretty exhausting. Also my group is so nice I love them and the leaders. Love y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all. Ps pls add more money to my green light bc I don’t have euro’s 😆😆😆😆 Ps could y’all make sure I have international Wi-Fi for the day we leave and I miss sully
Hugo- hey. Having fun w everyone. See y’all soon.
Wins- hey guys having a lot of fun hiking to different Refugio’s through the mountains. Can’t wait to see you guys soon!
Hart- Hey mom and dad. I love you guys. I’m having a great time and have had to do many challenging things. I did this sick via ferrata that was very scary. The 2 other dudes are sick and the girls are also cool. We are hiking to different Refugio’s for a bit. Other then those thing I’m doing great and having a great time. Love u guys and love my baby boy too.
June 25, 2022
Ciao from Italy!
Oh my goodness it has already been such an incredible couple of days here in the land of pizza, gelato, and new friends! We both waited eagerly at the airport for everyone to arrive, and the first ones off the plane were Hart, Wins, and Audrey- with one Mr. Hugo close behind. We had a few hours until the next flight came in, and during that time we all chatted and got to know each other. After we all related our love for competition, we quickly broke into the card game “Presidents” with Audrey winning the first game we played. Before we knew it, the second flight had arrived and everyone was piling into our bus that would take us up into the Dolomite mountains! On the bus, everyone was talking and laughing despite being absolutely exhausted from such a long day of travel. Audrey did and excellent job of breaking the ice and getting everyone to open up and connect with each other. The boys learned a new word: refugio, and they recited it throughout the entire ride as if the bus depended on it. After many long and windy roads and a whole lot of gorgeous views, we finally reached our destination for the next two days. The airplane food wasn’t quite enough to fill everyone’s stomach, so we stopped by a small Italian grocery store and everyone picked out their own snacks including many chocolate goodies, chips, salsa, cheese, and some other delicious foods. While sitting next to a nice little creek, everyone ate their fill and took in the cascading mountain peaks that surround us now. Afterwards, we all walked to a local soccer field and played a variety of fun games. We started out with a hacky sack game that tests your speed, coordination, and agility, and through some intense competition, Alex ended up being our winner! The next game we played was one called ”Birdie on a Perch”. The rules of this game are similar to musical chairs, except that some people act as the chairs (aka the perch) and their assigned partner acts as the bird, and when the music stops, the birdie must get to its perch! The last team still on the ground is out of there! The dynamic duo, Hart and Annie, took home the victory! Way to fly high guys! Lastly we played a game of handball, but we used a hacky sack in place of the ball. We split up into two teams, “Team One” versus “Team Firestorm” with Mary Claire and I as team captains. Everyone was having a blast running around throwing the hacky sack and trying to score on the goals. Our MVPs for each team were Wins and Rachel who both absolutely crushed it. Needless to say, all this running around built up our appetites once again. Our first official meal in Italy proved to be quite the treat as we were taken on a “Pizza Tour” of Italy. We were served multiple different authentic Italian style pizzas that did not last very long once they reached our table. Alex was ready to try new foods making a point to try each and every slice we were served! As stomachs grew full and eyes grew droopy, we headed off to our very first Moonup. Moonup is a very special time at night when the group gets together and shares about their lives and what makes us who we are. We have times of reflection, gratitude, and chances to build each other up as friends and as leaders. During Moonup, we learned why everyone chose to be on this trip. I was so encouraged when I heard everyone share about how they wanted to exit their comfort zones and reach new heights, especially with some new friends. We also appointed our first LODs or “leaders of the day”, Ivey and Hart. These are two people in the group who get a chance to grow their skills as leaders, gain extra responsibility, and make the day their own. Moonup drew to a close, and everyone was very grateful for some much needed shut eye.
The next morning, we woke up bright eyed and ready for what our first full day would bring, and man it did not disappoint! We loaded up on chocolate croissants and other delicious breakfast treats and hit the trail up to our first Via Ferrata! These are cable-lined mountain trails that require a harness and carabiners to traverse, some of them dating back to WWI when the soldiers used these trails to get across the mountain! Hugo led the way as we explored all that the mountain had to offer. Both the climb and the incredible views left us a bit breathless, but man was that view worth it! We took turns taking silly photos and vlogging once we reached the top, feeling energized by the 360 degree view! We headed down on two rope teams and then walked to our lunch spot. We ate lunch in a flower-filled field at the base of the mountain, and I have to say that it was one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. Vivi and I even took selfies of us eating our lunch just to remember how dreamy it all seemed. While we took photos, the boys had other ideas of fun in mind and ran up a nearby hill. Wins was the first to take off full speed down the hill, but Hart and Hugo followed closely behind, absolutely cracking up the whole way down. Ivey got into the spirit of things and even rolled down the hill after the boys. We set off on our hike back towards town and got to know each other out on the trail, having such a blast figuring out just how much we have in common with our newfound friends. We hiked all the way back to our hotel, but upon dropping off our gear, we decided to turn right back in the direction of a small nearby river that was calling our name. Hart, Hugo, and Wins plunged right in, eager to feel the cool mountain water rush over them. George and I got in shortly after and dunked our heads under the mini waterfalls upstream. The girls explored the river and chilled on the rocks singing their favorite songs. Lulu and Alex sang some beautiful songs by The Chicks, while our more Northern friends got a lesson on country music and how to properly knee slap to a song. Annie collected some wildflowers and made a beautiful flower crown as we headed back home. We decided that our magical afternoon would not be complete without a good old fashioned summertime treat, so we decided to surprise the kids with gelato! We played telephone over chocolate and hazelnut deliciousness and continued the fun into dinner time. Our meal did not disappoint as we tried various local meals and devoured our mango dessert. Feeling stuffed, we walked over to a gorgeous nearby field for Moonup run by our fabulous LODs, Ivey and Hart. Underneath a beautiful setting sun, we got to show off our favorite dance moves and talk about times and people that have impacted our lives. Listening to this special group talk with such lightness and love, I can already tell that these two weeks will be nothing short of beautiful. We are so excited for what is to come!
Ciao for now!
Mary Claire and George
June 24, 2022
Hello Italian Dolomites Families!
We heard late last night from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Venice. 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!