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Dolomites 3 B • July 9-July 22, 2022

Ciao for Now!

July 22, 2022

Hi there everybody!

I am absolutely shocked that it is already time for the last trip update. It seems like just yesterday that we were dunking our heads in the river and playing with mountain crows on our first summit. Now, I am sitting in the airport surrounded by some of the most fun-loving and close knit kids in the whole world, and I could not be more proud of their growth over our time together. I suppose I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s spin the clock back a bit!

Two days ago, we woke up in our newest, favorite mountain town to the sounds of chirping morning birds and beautiful bells from the nearby bell tower where we had enjoyed Moonup the night before. We had a lovely breakfast complete with homemade hot chocolate! We took a short ride after breakfast to the river where we would be spending most of the day. Once we arrived at the parking lot, Landon, Walker, Mac, and I found quite an efficient way of passing time while we waited for the other group. After finding some perfect sticks, a full on sword/ lightsaber battle broke out as we all chased each other around laughing and singing pirate melodies. Once the rest of the group arrived, we traded in our sticks for some more legit gear like wetsuits and harnesses in order to prep for our day in the canyons! Landon was even so excited that he put his wetsuit on backwards! After a quick correction, however, we were all ready to go! Not being able to resist the cool water, Eliza and Jasper quickly laid down in the water. Eliza, however, got more of a shower as all the kids started to splash her in order to really cool her down. We started hiking down the river and rapidly approached the first rappel down a waterfall! George sneakily sat down at the lip of the falls, and when he stood up, a rush of water would rush down on whoever was rappelling! Jasper and Mac were our first brave members to go down the falls and hooped and hollered as they descended the falls, setting the perfect tone for the rest of our adventure! While in the river, we saw a lot of wildlife including a frog Eliza pointed out, tadpoles, snakes from afar, and even a wild Landon screaming “monkey monkey” as he traversed through the water and caused laughter to echo through the canyon walls. We arrived at our second rappel and descended like total professionals! Kayley and I even got to rappel down together, and my stomach hurt from laughing by the time we splashed into the water! We continued on laughing and singing in the canyons until we arrived at two jumping rocks! Maggie even attempted a toe touch as she went off the jump, earning some total style points. After getting our fix of adrenaline, we moved onto the next portion of the river where we got to slide down rocks and swim through the caverns. The beautiful blue water was lit up by the sun as it peeked through the canyon walls, and it seemed to beautiful to be true! Once again, we found ourselves in awe of Italy’s sheer beauty and swam through the turquoise water. Once we reached the end of our journey, we hung up our wetsuits and sat down at a long picnic table for lunch. We snacked on sandwiches, juice and fruit and had a true summertime picnic! We tanned and warmed ourselves in the sun after that feeling perfectly content in our patch of sunshine. We arrived at the hotel, and George and I thought it was the perfect time to surprise everyone with gelato, so we all got our three scoops and then were perfectly content once again! We played games, journaled and chilled out until dinner where we indulged in our newfound love for fizzy water. We walked to the church up the mountain after dinner for Moonup. Ellen and Landon led us in a peaceful and joyful Moonup that ended in 10 minutes of silence where laughter rose and fell with the quiet. This group truly is just so happy to be with each other, and I definitely went to bed with a smile that night.

The next morning, we woke up with the city on our minds and got ready in record time. We said goodbye to the mountains for the last time and took to the town in style! After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we walked to a lunch spot and ate delicious Venetian pizzas and pastas. After lunch, the girls and boys split up for some classic retail therapy, and we hit the streets with all sorts of souvenirs and gifts in mind. The boys got showered in cologne and bought some colorful pasta while the girls all found matching bracelets spotted by Ellen’s good fashion eye. Maggie even sneakily got our baking expert, LJ, a surprise apron while we perused the shops! Avery, Kayley, LJ, and Maggie couldn’t resist some airport candy and spent some time diligently choosing the best candies from the finest Italian establishment, “Captain Candy.” Once we felt content with our purchases, we did a bit of a show and fell in the refuge of a shaded garden near the sea. We decided to get a different view of the city and headed up the famous bell tower in San Marco and enjoyed the city from the clouds. We awed at the incredible architecture and colors of the city and even got to hear and see the bells ringing from the closest view you could ask for! Once we headed down, we walked to a trattoria on the canal for our final banquet dinner. We devoured our last tastes of the incredible Italian pastas, seafoods, meats, and breads we had come to know and love. Our dinner stomachs were totally stuffed by the end, but our dessert stomachs told another story as we made our way to a gelato spot afterwards. We snacked on our treat and took in the city as it slowly transitioned from day to night. We watched the canals turn from a brilliant blue to a black canvas that reflected the lights from the gondolas and buildings- it surely is a an impressive city! We found a quiet spot near one of these canals for Moonup and circled up for the last time. During our last Moonup, we got to express our love and gratitude for the small moments that had made this trip so meaningful. We smiled as we spoke of who had inspired us over our time together and even she’d a couple of tears knowing that this may be the last time we get to all be together again. It is such a beautiful feeling being able to look around and feel known, loved, and supported by people you have only known for a short while. This group has truly leaned into what it means to let go and be yourself, and we all have been better off for it. Life is too short to be anyone but yourself, and man am I grateful that I have gotten to see them shine and encourage each other to live lightheartedly. As I sign off for the last time, I would just like to express my deep gratitude for this group. May they continue to shine! Thank you, 3B. We love you very much!

Ciao for now,

MC and George


Days in the Dolomites!

July 19, 2022

Ciao everyone!

What a beautiful couple of whirlwind days it has been since we last wrote to you all! We have all been having the most fun here in the Dolomites, and I am so excited to tell you about it! Needless to say, it has been unforgettable!

After our long hike the day beforehand, we got to enjoy a shorter hike near our refugio the next day. We started the morning eating chocolate cake and enjoying tea made by our expert, Jasper. (Although he did convince me Nutella could go in an English breakfast tea…) We started climbing the hill behind our mountain home and were blown away by the gorgeous purple flowers that seemed to sprout up everywhere around us! We followed the flowery path all the way to our first mountain peak! Maggie and I felt obliged to stretch our legs and even did a little sunrise salutations yoga at the summit! Eliza took pictures on her very professional camera of the stunning valley below, and we all had fun signing our names in the book housed in a box at the top. LJ and Landon had lots of fun with the stamp that came with the book and put it in their journals, and as for Landon, some of his hand may permanently be blue with the stamp ink! We continued on and summited a second peak nearby! We all took a break and had a snack while taking in the view all around. It seemed as though no matter where you looked, there was a new, even more beautiful mountain to see! After a bit of rest, we moved down the mountain and walked through rolling fields shaded by old pines. Kayley noted how nice it was to just walk in silence and enjoy the sounds of the world around us, and we all nodded in agreement as we took in the beautiful orchestration of the world. After a bit, we reached a shaded grassy hill and decided it was the perfect spot for lunch. Almost right on cue, we were joined by a whole herd of cows making their way down the valley. It was hard not to feel connected to those cows as all ate lunch together and enjoyed the field in our own respects. Walker even had some success feeding one of the cows and quickly learned just how long cow tongues could reach! We soon said goodbye to the cows and headed back to the refugio. Upon arrival, we partook in nap time- a tradition we have come to love over our time together. We journaled, read our books, and slept soundly- a well deserved rest from a long days hike! Once we got moving again, we were in a more competitive spirit and played an intense game of scattergories- thank you Eliza for that game- and an even more intense game of Monopoly deal where George proved his mastery. We enjoyed another delicious family style meal and soon settled in a field in front of the refugio for Moonup. The most enthusiastic Avery and Maggie, our day’s LODs, led a lovely Moonup amidst the mountain flowers. We ended it in a group hug that felt oh so fitting, for the closeness of this group can be seen from a mile away. We fell asleep laughing and dreamed of the peaks we had conquered earlier that day.

The next morning, we woke up a bit earlier to beat the heat, and we were greeted by a warm sun that shined just behind the massive mountain face ahead. It was quite the view to wake up to! Feeling fueled by chocolate croissants, we hit the road, and Walker, Jasper, and Landon even took a swing at trekking poles. Once they learned that they are better than just for javelin throwing, they proved quite useful! We quickly reached our first ascent of the day, and Avery and Eliza led the pack with smiles that certainly encouraged everyone to follow suit! We reached the top and were met by an adorable, mud covered golden retriever that listed everyone’s spirits as we continued on. Soon enough, we reached our second and longest ascent of the day. Pretty quickly, games of celebrity and 20 questions broke out as we climbed the mountain together. I cannot tell you just how proud I was to hear everyone bring each other up and shout words of encouragement while we all tackled the mountain. Once we made it up to the top, we were awarded with a beautiful hidden lake, accessible only to those who complete the climb! We stopped there for a bit, and Mac showed us his expert rock skipping as others took some time to tan and chill on our “beach.” We felt refreshed and ready to move, and we made our way to the very last push of the day. Our trail rested between a massive rock wall and a valley town below that would make even the tallest man feel small. We joked on the trail and laughed until we reached the third and final climb of the day that led to the refugio. With determination in our hearts, we cheered our way up the hill. Once we reached the top, we learned that the view was even more breathtaking than the climb! We high-fived as we each took our final steps to the top- it sure was a great feeling! We ate our lunches and agreed at that moment that it was the best ham and cheese sandwich anyone has ever had. We took the rest of the afternoon to play games, sleep, and we even got to see a helicopter land at the helipad in front of our room! We entertained our newfound love for pick up sticks until dinner, and we chowed down on some of the most incredible pasta I have ever had. Kayley and Walker had a blast planning Moonup, and we headed to the helipad for one of the most fun-filled Moonups yet! We ended it in some group yoga and all formed the tree pose together to for, white a beautiful forest. We then walked up the hill to the very top of the mountain and were stunned when we saw the oranges and purples that scattered the sky above. We took some time to spread out and watch the sun disappear in silence, and some of us even shed a few tears at the sheer beauty of the moment. We went to bed feeling warmer than the sun, and we fell asleep with gratitude in our hearts

This morning was bittersweet as we all woke up knowing it would be our last day of hiking together. But in such a gorgeous place it is hard to remain sad for too long because everywhere you look there is another picturesque view! After a quick breakfast, we were back to business as usual except, polar opposite to yesterday, today’s route was entirely downhill. The air was nice and cool as we zig-zagged our way down the mountain, with many trail conversations taking place to pass the time. Eliza, Kayley, Avery, and George got into a deep debate over different conspiracy theories and unanswerable questions that kept them all occupied for over an hour. Not long into the hike we were soon covered by the shade of the trees with the morning sun occasionally poking through the branches. Our guide Michele pointed out to us a famous rock that looks just like an elephant’s face, along with some ancient fossils from when the Dolomites were completely underwater long long ago. A few water breaks later and we had reached the road where our taxi would come pick us up. Everyone took a seat in the shade ready to get those packs of their backs, It didn’t take long for the boys to come up with a new game! The game was essentially tossing a trekking pole up in the air and trying to get it to stick straight up in the grass. After many failed attempts, Jasper became the winner with the first successfully stuck landing. Today marked not only the last day of trekking, but also the last day with our mountain guide Michele. The group has grown very close with him overthe countless miles spent hiking with him. Ellen and Maggie gave Michele the kids’ handwritten thank you note (signed by everyone) as something to remember the us by and they all piled in for a group hug and then a photo. The next thing we knew, we were all on the bus heading toward on another town and a new activity! The bus ride consisted mostly of music and napping, and Ellen got the award for first to fall asleep. One by one though, everyone eventually dozed off. By the time everyone woke from their slumber on the bus, we had arrived at our hotel for the next two nights. Somehow all that sleeping really worked up an appetite, and so the first thing the kids did after setting their things down in their respective rooms we swarmed the snacks that were for sale in the lobby. Everyone loaded up on delicious chips, crackers, candy, and ice cream, all of which were eaten within ten short minutes. Everyone then split up to either shower, play cards, journal, or just hang out and talk until eventually it was time for dinner. We enjoyed a delicious meal provided by our host Eva (the owner of the hotel). Afterward we took a short walk up to a beautiful church and next to it we found a comfy little plot of grass where we had a truly delightful Moonup led by Jasper and Eliza! After answering tonight’s questions, we closed Moonup with an intense game of four corners and LJ was declared the winner! Just when we thought the night couldn’t get any better, we found out it was Eva’s birthday! She kindly gave us all cake and juice as we celebrated and sang happy birthday to her in Italian! Today was truly an amazing day and I can say with confidence that nobody would rather be anywhere else. Everyone is now heading to bed excited for a wonderful day of canyoneering tomorrow!

Thank you!

George and Mary Claire

Word from the kids…

Jasper: Thank you guys for sending me on this trip. It’s amazing and so much fun doing super cool things.


Mac: Thank you so much for sending me to the Dolomites for this incredible trip. It has been lots of fun!


Walker: Thank y’all so much for sending me on this amazing trip. It has been so much fun and I’m so glad I got to go on another Moondance.


Landon: I am having so much fun here! Thanks so much! I’ve enjoyed rock climbing, hiking, and hanging out with my new friends. I’ll see y’all soon! ❤️


Kayley: Hey squad. Soooo incredibly grateful that while eating lunch by the pool in Vegas, you picked the most random possible trip to send me on. #dolomites. I’m having a ball. The views are sick. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I love you dearly, I’ll see y’all in 3😌😌


Lila Jane: Thank you so much for the opportunity to come on this trip! I have loved every second and I have enjoyed getting to know everyone here. I will never forget this!! Love y’all so much:)


Avery: Thank you so so so much for sending me on this incredible trip. There was never one bad day and everyday was filled with so much fun. Everything here is awesome and the views keep getting better and better. I love all of you sooooooo much!! See you soon ☺️


Maggie: Thank you for this great experience. I am grateful for the opportunities you guys always give me. Love y’all


Eliza: I’m having so much fun I’m Italy! Thank you guys so much! Tomorrow we are going canyoneering so that will be lit. Not hype to leave, but hype to see you all! Love you!!


Ellen: I am having such a great time here, thank you so much. Love and miss y’all.💗💗


Hi There Everyone!

July 17, 2022

Hi there everyone!


I can’t believe it is already time to write another update- the time has been flying by! These days have been filled with so much joy and laughter, and we have had the most wonderful time getting to know each other, backdropped by the beautiful Dolomites!


After our long hike from the day before, we felt ready to explore the area we had traversed the days before. We took a gondola ride up the mountain to the highest refugio in the Dolomites! We were even accompanied by a couple of adorable dogs up to the top! We walked up to the nearby summit and took in the beautiful view. We took pictures and spun around as we marveled at the 360-degree views that the peak had to offer. After taking it all in, we made our way down the mountain following the historic trails forged by Austrian Mountaineering troops during the First World War. Mac led the pack as we maneuvered our way down the path, using a cable to guide our way down. At one point, we even reached a bridge suspended by the cables and posed on it for an epic picture! We expertly made it down and then headed up a nearby mountain to start our adventure in the tunnels carved out by Italian soldiers. We strapped our headlamps on and walked carefully through the cool and dark tunnels. Once we reached the light, we spotted some trenches and decided it would be the perfect spot to have lunch. Maggie showed us some beautiful flowers while we ate, and everyone was excited to find some chocolate with their meals! We hiked down the mountain and made our way towards our new refugio which would become our home for the next couple of nights. Once we rounded the curve of the mountain, we all cheered as we saw our first glimpse of the beautiful Cinque Torri, or “five towers”, ahead. We raced to the refugio and eagerly unlaced our boots to take a well-deserved rest. We journaled and played card games together until dinner and enjoyed a wide assortment of pastas, meats, salad, and of course- lots of bread! Our first Moonup in Cinque Torri, held by our very encouraging LODs, Landon and Avery, was met with a beautiful sunset that warmed all of our hearts and carried us all into the night and eventually, a restful sleep.


The next day, the morning held an air of excitement, for our first day of climbing was here! After a delicious breakfast, we harnessed up and headed up the mountain to a close by Via Ferrata. The guides divided us into rope teams led by Kayley, Landon, and George, as we followed the cable up the mountain and tuned into our inner mountain goats. I am so proud of everyone’s ability to face their fears head on and to trust and encourage each other as we maneuvered our way to the top. Because of some classic mountain weather, we had ti turn around before leaving the summit, but our spirits weren’t dampened at all as the promise of a pasta dinner moved that much closer! To avoid the rain, we walked back down to our refugio and drooled over our amazing lunch and a chocolate cake surprise to top it off! After the clouds rolled through, we headed towards Cinque Torri for our first taste of this legendary rock climbing. Everyone did such a wonderful job climbing, belaying, and cheering each other on! LJ, Maggie, and Walker found a love of belaying, and Mac and I even got to race up two of the routes for a perfect photo finish…! We walked back to the refugio feeling so accomplished of the heights we had climbed that day. Back at our home stay, we held another “journal party” to remember all that we had done that day! We were treated to another lovely dinner where we laughed about the events of the day over more Italian delicacies and, of course, some phenomenal dessert! We headed to Moonup and piled into a small divet in the field, truly making it feel like we were one big family. Our LODs, Jasper and Eliza, who had led by example all day, continued to do so by leading us in a lovely Moonup. We talked about where we would love to live one day and got to know each other’s hearts as we all expressed our pride and gratitude for one another. Jasper even introduced us to a new game called “40-40 homie” that we got to play in the field to wrap up our fun-filled day! After a quick hot chocolate, we went to bed dreaming of great heights and greater times spent together!


The next morning, we woke up a bit later, so we had even more pep in our step as we moved towards breakfast. We got our fair share of cappuccinos and croissants and then headed back towards the towers we have come to know and love. The kids all got to climb a multi-pitch ascent to the top of a large rock and repel down on the other side with one of the guides! In their respective teams of two, our first to tackle the rock were LJ and Maggie alongside Eliza and Ellen! While they climbed, the rest of the group attempted some stellar single pitch climbs where they even competed for times! Walker came out on top in the competition, but Landon’s commentary surely left him with some style points! Once the multi-pitchers returned, rope teams, Mac and Jasper, and Avery and Landon tried their hands at the long climb while the girls rested and tried the shorter climbs! Kayley shined as a photographer and expertly captured everyone as they came down the rappel! Ellen even crawled into a small hole at the top of the rock wall and looked very cozy in her den! Once everyone had their feet planted firmly on the ground, we headed up to the refugio for another pasta lunch that was finished off with a lovely fruit tart. Officially in a food coma, we took a ten-minute power nap and then headed back towards the walls! Seeing what talent lied in the group, they set up some more difficult climbs for us to try! Eliza totally crushed both of them and was the very first to reach the top of the hardest climb- she was closely followed by Walker and Mac! Landon and George spent lots of time making some impressive cairns on the ground while Maggie and LJ shouted words of encouragement from the belay! The afternoon quickly slipped away from us, and soon enough, we had to walk back to the refugio for some much-needed rest. George and I decided that it was only right to surprise the group with some ice cream, and we enjoyed our treats outside on a picnic table that looked right over the familiar rocks. We played cards, scattergories, and other fun games until dinner came around, and we lucked out again with the meal! Walker was especially excited when we got some Tiramisu to top it off! Our Moonup was led by the lovely Kayley and Ellen, and we talked spirit animals and told each other the questions we wished we had asked to us more often. A thunderstorm was rolling in off in the distance, and we watched it light up the sky above the mountains. We headed to bed just in time for the storm to reach our rifugio, and we fell asleep listening to the soothing sounds of rain hitting the roof.


This morning brought new life as the storm moved away and left greener pastures behind! We enjoyed our last breakfast from our Cinque Torri home and hit the trail early! This hike proved to be one of our most challenging, but we felt up for the challenge. Even on our longest ascent of the day, everyone was quick to give a word of encouragement or a high five when someone needed it. I feel so proud of the ways in which this group has come together, and today sure was an example of their optimism and strength. We were energized by horses and cows on the path, and needless to say many selfies were taken with the animals. Once we got up the hill, it was a flat grassy plateau that felt like it was straight out of a National Geographic photo shoot. As we cruised along the flatter terrain, trail games broke out all over ranging from I spy to the very popular ‘celebrity’ name game. Landon, George, and our guide Michele had a very long and intense game of their own going as well! With spirits high and games to keep us busy it wasn’t long before we stopped for another gorgeous lunch break with a nice view any direction you turned your head. After refueling, we put our packs into our backs and hit the trail ready to crush the last leg of our hike. We made our way down the mountain and under the cover of trees, and shortly through those trees Maggie was able to spot our rifugio! Everyone let out joyful yells, ready to relax, play some cards, scattergory, pick up sticks, and possibly take a nice nap too. In total we ended up hiking 13 miles today and we could not be prouder of how much strength everyone showed and how positive everyone’s attitude was throughout the course of the hike! A long and difficult hike can feel one hundred times easier and be so much more fun when everyone does their best to keep spirits high! By the time dinner rolled around, everyone’s stomachs were rumbling like earthquakes because of the appetites they had built up from hiking so far. Everyone was treated to a family style meal of different kinds of pastas, meats, vegetables, and other Italian cuisines. Just when everyone thought they couldn’t eat another bite, the waitress brought everyone ice cream! As if by magic, everyone had more room in their stomachs. The day closed out with a very lovely and heartfelt Moonup in a nice field across from our rifugio. It’s pretty amazing how close these kids have become in such a short amount of time.




Jasper fritze: Hi guys, I’m having a sick time doing things I wouldn’t have thought I would be doing. I can’t wait to see you soon. Have a good time lads.⛄️


James Landon Clement: I’m having so much fun in Italy. I’ll see you in 6 days. Love y’all🥰🔥👌🏼😂🙈⛄️🥱💀


Ellen Roberts: heyyy I’m having a great time miss and love y’all


Lila Jane Pulliam: Having such a good time in Italy, I hope y’all are having fun and I am so excited to see you soon. Love y’all so much! 💗


Avery McGould: Hey fam!!!! This trip has been amazing and so much fun. The views are crazy, and the food is so so good! Can’t wait to see you guys soon! Love and miss you all 💗💗


Eliza Ambler: Hey guys! I’m having so much fun rock climbing and hiking in Italy! Miss you guys so much but also don’t want to leave. Keep on slaying! Love you!


Mac Riser: what’s up! this trip is so much fun. Thank you! Incredible climbing and hiking and great new friends and memories! Love y’all so much!


Maggie Hyder: I’m having a quite enjoyable time. We really need to come here and go skiing. Much love. See y’all later


Walker Forrester: Hey family, I am having such an amazing time in Italy. It’s been so much fun and is going by soon quick. See y’all in a bit.


Kayley Malone: hey y’all!!!! i am resting easy knowing y’all are holding down venice in my absence. i hope you’re having a grand time, i know i am. can’t wait to meet you there in a few days, im sure you’re counting down the seconds. long live the much-awaited reunion of the superior trio. and mom. 🥱love you dearly.

Via Ferrata Views!

July 13, 2022

Ciao from Italy!

Wow! These past couple of days have been so full of wonder, joy, and so many laughs, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it! This group has truly blown us away, and we are feeling so grateful and excited for what is to come, especially after these magical few days. After scooping up all the kids from the Venice airport, we all hopped aboard our shuttle bus and began our journey to the Dolomites! The bus ride was filled with long and windy roads, lots of beautiful lakes, rivers, vineyards, mountains, and other gorgeous scenery. Despite the long and tiresome day of travel, all the kids were very talkative and immediately began introducing themselves, figuring out mutual connections, and other things they had in common. It wasn’t long before our bus was pulling up to our nice little hotel located in the valley of two mountains, and we felt like we were close already! After unloading our things and getting situated in our rooms, we took all the kids on a walk around the town and had a delicious creek-side picnic! We had a motley assortment of Italian treats (many of which were chocolate based)! LJ got the award for most refreshing treat as she chose a crisp toothpaste tasting chocolate, but the Yonkers really took the prize as everyone’s favorite! Everyone snacked on the food and took a moment to let it sink in that we are finally in Italy! While by the creek, Walker, Landon, and Mac all skipped rocks in the water, bonding over their newfound game, “rock rock.”  Soon, however, the jet lag caught up with everyone, and so we all went back to our rooms for either a shower or a quick nap before dinner. The first dinner was quite a way to start off a trip in Italy as the restaurant prepared us a “pizza tour,” which consisted of multiple types of classic Italian-style pizzas! I don’t think there was a single slice of pizza left on the table by the time we had finished dinner; everyone was stuffed! It’s a good thing everyone saved room in their dessert stomach because next they brought out a delicious pistachio strawberry ice cream sundae. With our stomachs filled, the only thing left on the agenda for the day was Moonup! Moonup is a special time at the end of the day where we all get together and reflect on the day, get to know everyone better by answering questions, and give thanks for all the day had brought us. We learned why everyone chose to be here and reflected on how grateful we were that no matter why we were here, we all got to be here together. We also named LJ and Walker as our first LODs or Leaders of the Day. These are two people who are given the opportunity to grow as leaders, gain some extra responsibility, and make the day their own! The sun set behind a nearby mountaintop, giving us a peaceful end to our day before everyone scurried off to bed to get some much-needed rest!

The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day- a sure sign that it will be a great day- and you bet it was! We loaded up on chocolate croissants and started our hike towards the first Via Ferrata. Translating to “the iron way,” via ferratas are cable-lined mountainous trails that were originally used by Italian soldiers during WWI. Mac led the pack as we traversed up the mountain towards the peak. Ellen, Kayley, and I all talked about music and sang while we reached the top of the mountain! Avery made sure to capture the moment with her GoPro, and we all high-fived and celebrated as we took turns signing our names in the book housed in a case on the peak, forever solidifying our accomplishments of the day. Avery kept pace with the boys as they headed on their rope team down the mountain, and Kayley led the second group towards town! Once we reached the bottom, we hiked to a field filled with wildflowers and took a well-deserved lunch break. Feeling full from our sandwiches and chocolate, we continued on the trail all the way back to our hotel! We chatted about our pets, favorite music and just got to know each other out on the trail! Trail conversations truly are the best! We got back to town and took advantage of the beautiful day and hung out by an icy river. We soaked up the sun and dipped our feet in to cool them down after a long hike. Wanting to truly feel connected to the land, Maggie and Eliza took a polar plunge in the creek! They were quickly followed by Walker and Mac, and we splashed and cheered everyone on as they dunked their heads under the mini waterfall!

We walked back and waited excitedly in one room as news spread that our newest member had arrived! Jasper took planes, trains, and automobiles to reach us in our mountain town, and we are so happy that he finally made our group whole! We all got to know each other through silly questions and intense card games and soon were off to dinner. We had a delicious meal with a variety of offerings and laughed our way through the meal, all the way into dessert! After devouring our apple strudel, we walked to our beautiful Moonup spot in a field that sits just under the mountains. Our LODs, LJ and Walker, led us in a wonderful Moonup where we talked about goals for the future and characteristics that are key to who we are. We headed to bed that night feeling on top of the world and fell asleep with full hearts!

We woke up feeling rested and headed down to enjoy another delicious breakfast making sure to fill up for our big day! We hit the trail and immediately started chatting and playing games as we headed on our way. We scaled mountains and savored the downhills, laughing our way through the mountains. At one point, we reached a beautiful field on the top of a mountain and did cartwheels and headstands, celebrating the beauty of the day. We had a lovely lunch near a horse stable and warmed ourselves in the summer sun. Kayley, Mac, and Landon led the group and got to know our guide, while Walker, Ellen, and Eliza took in the views and chatted on the way back as we arrived at our Refugio for the night. Feeling so accomplished from the long hike we had absolutely crushed, we closed our eyes, laid in the field, and finally rested our legs. We hung out in our rooms and enjoyed each other’s company all the way until dinner time, reflecting on how incredible it is that we are already so close after two days! Dinner was a delicious spread of pastas and meats, and the dessert was much welcomed! Our fabulous LODs, Maggie and Mac, led Moonup in the beautiful field outside of our refugio where we talked spirit animals and fears we have been able to overcome. We played cards to end the night and laughed until our heads hit the pillow. Needless to say, we had an unforgettable first couple of days together in the Dolomites. This group has been full of energy, enthusiasm, and so much love. We feel very grateful to have the chance to spend time with everyone in this group- they truly are so special. We can’t wait to see what the next couple of days have in store, for if these days have been any indication, they will be absolutely incredible! Until next time!


MC and George

Safe Arrival in Venice!

July 10, 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!

-Moondance HQ


  • Eliza
  • Landon
  • Walker
  • Jasper
  • Maggie
  • Kayley
  • Avery
  • LJ
  • Mac
  • Ellen