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Hawaiian Islands 2 A • June 26-July 9, 2022

With love, from the Islands!

July 11, 2022

To our dear HWI 2A friends + families,

To say that yesterday was a very sad day would be an extreme understatement. It was hard for all of us as we had to say goodbye to these amazing people who have become such an important presence in our lives in just a short two weeks. The last few days of our trip were unbeatable, starting with our 8-mile hike up the Napali Coast near Waimea Canyon, which is the Grand Canyon equivalent to Hawaii. Absolutely beautiful views all the way up to our trailhead! This hike was pretty difficult as we had a lot of steep inclines and declines, but the reward at the end was well worth it. Our stellar hiker Blythe may have slid down the trail for the last two miles, but even she agreed that she was glad to have been able to see something so beautiful! We had our delicious sandwiches and chips for lunch off the top of the ridge and saw lots of boats and kayaks passing down below. Although we were sad our sea kayak got canceled a few days earlier, I think we were all a little relieved that it was them out there instead of us! Jordan and Phoebe took a cat nap on top of the mountain and they were so positive and amazed at all we got to see throughout our day. Our navy seal in training, Anson, led the speedy retreat back to our car and a lot of us hung back to check out the views along the way. Ginny was a little discouraged at times, but thanks to our guide’s snack bag with the best dried mango we’ve ever had, she was able to push through and make it back! The best reward after all of our hard work: SHAVED ICE! Jake got the Big Kahuna and it was quite literally larger than his head. We all sat around and talked about our day, got to get some souvenir shopping in, and then we hit the road back to camp. We had Moonup and tacos to close off the night, and we hit the hay pretty early as we were absolutely exhausted.

The next morning we woke up fairly early for our second surf lesson and final day of activities! When we got to the beach it was all like second nature. Everyone got right back up on their boards and we were able to catch some pretty awesome waves! Much bigger than last time. There was an intense game of spike ball being played with the leaders versus Jake and John as the other group surfed. Although they may have “skunked us,” a lot of fun was had as we may have gotten over-competitive in the process. Ben was absolutely shredding it out there with his new best friend and our instructor, Evan. They even let him surf for the entire time because he was THAT good (Boof, if you’re reading this, don’t get a big head about it). We couldn’t get Mary Louise off of the waves either, she was out there until the instructors had to force her out! We made our way to town and got our highly coveted souvenir hat from the local store in Hanalei. They absolutely love us there. We had an on the go lunch and headed towards the west side of the island for zip lining! But not without first stopping at a local thrift shop for banquet outfits!! The outfits that this group came out with were absolutely hilarious. My personal favorite was probably Zach’s as he sported a women’s calf length denim skirt and a crop top. Great look! Although some people walked in saying they would never dress up, everyone walked out with an absurd costume for our dinner that night.

Zip lining was an absolute blast. We had three different lines ending with the last one that was a little less than a mile! Hollyn was a beast and overcame her fear of heights with ease. We ended the last line with some of the best cookies on the island waiting for us at the finish line. Even though Jordan had to get fished off of the line at the end, we all still had a great time! Afterwards we went to Bubba’s burgers for our banquet dinner in our new stylish get up. Ordering 15 burgers with fries and shakes was no easy feat, but they were able to get our food out in no time. Some people were incredibly confused as to why we were dressed like we were, but that just made it all the more hilarious. Turning around on the crosswalk and seeing them walking in their costumes in the middle of town was absolutely a core memory. On our last day, we had to pack up camp, but not without John’s legendary French toast to cap off our meals for the trip. Absolutely amazing, he’s a jack of all traits, we truly don’t know how he does it all. We went into Kapaa and had some much needed free time to explore and get last minute gifts to bring back home! Colin finally got the hat he had been asking for all trip long and we were overjoyed that we no longer had to hear about Shipwreck anymore. The group had the certified BEST SHAVED ICE from Hee Fat in town and then we went to the swinging bridge for our final Moonup. The drive to the airport was a solemn one as we listened to Rasputin and Anson and Ben’s rendition of the Chilis Baby Back Ribs jingle. When it came time to park the trailer and van, taking up 5 spots in the parking lot, the sad reality was hitting us: that we’d have to say our goodbyes. I cannot say enough kind words about all of these kids. They were the best second session group we could’ve had, and in our opinion, they were the group we imagined when we signed up for this job. We simply could not ask for better! They left this trip not only as stronger leaders and individuals, but as friends to us all and people we can absolutely never forget. We can’t wait to see all that they do, and we’re even more excited for our tour to come visit everyone when we get back to the lower 48!

Y’all have some pretty spectacular kids and we can’t wait for them to share all the memories they made here in Hawaii when they get back safely to you at home.

Much love,

Mary App, Garrett + Grace

Island Adventures Continue!

July 7, 2022

Greetings from the islands!

We have been keeping ourselves busy on Kauai and the best news is that we still have a few more days of fun before we have to say goodbye 🙁 We try not to think about that! Sadly, our kayaking was canceled due to inclement weather on Sunday so we quickly pivoted and made a new plan. We went to the water spouting hole on the South shore and then spent a day at the beach. A day on the island would never be complete without some shaved ice, so we made a local foods stop at a beachside shack that sells some of the best! Afterward we went to Walmart which is always an interesting experience. You never quite know what the kids will walk up to the self-checkout line with, but we were determined to find some 4th of July goodies before the big day! Jake took the liberty of holding everyone’s groceries in his cart as he rolled around in an electric wheelchair that he found at the front of Walmart. This time Colin came back from Wally World with a fishing pole which worked out pretty well when he came back to camp and caught a lizard fish right on our beach! He couldn’t have done it without his trusty right-hand man, Mr. Zach or as others like to call him, Zensei. We ended the day with yummy chicken fried rice and some great conversation with our Hawaiian neighbors. We love learning about the area and culture through the people we encounter. Ben has never known a stranger and he is always asking the best questions to all the locals, outfitters, etc. The following day for the Fourth of July, we had our first surf lesson! Everyone absolutely LOVED it and caught at least one wave if not more. John’s parents failed to mention that their son is a professional surfer…he was killing it on the water and even did a headstand on the board! He constantly amazes us with his hidden talents. As some of the kids surfed, others played an incredibly intense game of spike ball on the beach. After we each had our turn, we took everyone to the local village of Kapaa where we had time to shop and get some good food. The girls are determined to find long Hawaiian dresses so they can do a beach photo shoot. Sadly, they couldn’t find one there but we’re hoping to hit a thrift shop today! Mary Louise, or as we like to call her Maylo, found some hidden gem shops around the city and got the cutest haul! We headed back to the camp and let the kids have some free time. Many of them are extremely invested in their summer reading, but specifically, Anson has not been able to put his book down! Any extra chance we get, he’s reading his David Goggin’s book. He said he’s never liked reading more, so that’s pretty awesome! We had a cookout for the 4th and of course, Jordan was spearheading the entire meal planning and prep. She really has a love for cooking. We had some pretty delicious desserts and watermelon along with our hot dogs and hamburgers. Felt like a 4th of July party back home! We ended the night with a perfect view of the beach fireworks and of course, Moonup and some freestyle by Jake. They’ve also started playing this game where they make absurd noises until the other person laughs and although it doesn’t sound like much, it’s probably one of the most entertaining things to watch. We woke up the next morning bright and early to do some service work at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens and the views were absolutely beautiful. We spent the first half of the day doing some yard work getting rid of an invasive weed that’s been overtaking the land near the river. All of the kids were working so hard. Specifically, Ginny was doing an amazing job at weed-whacking! She was a natural! We had a much needed lunch break and then our guide led us on a tour of the gardens that led us to a secluded beach where green sea turtles lay their eggs. One of only three places on the island! The people at the Gardens are so sweet and all of the kids had so many questions for them. We saw the set of Jurassic Park so y’all should be anticipating a movie night when they get back! On the ride back we completed our daily Wordle and we were all stumped until Phoebe heroically figured out that the word was FIELD. The group genius! We went to the Sleeping Giant hike which has an amazing view of the entire island. Although Hollyn and Blythe were skeptical at first, when we made it to the top, they realized that the hike was well worth the view! That hike was just a warm-up to the one we’ll be doing today – 7 miles in and out, with the back end being all uphill! Update to come on that one. The night finished up with a delicious stir fry and some fun nighttime activities, shout-out to Lava Girl AKA Blythe! (This joke will make sense in a few days, don’t worry.) We had some great time to hang out after Moonup but ultimately went to sleep pretty early because of our early morning wake up call. Still can’t believe the trip is almost over, but there’s no doubt that we’re making the most of the time we have left! Now some thank yous from the kids….

Until next time,

Mary App, Garrett + Grace


Colin- Thank you mom and dad for letting me come on this trip, I’ve really had the time of my life and met some friends in such a short time period that will last a lifetime. I’m so glad that I’m privileged enough to get to go on a trip like this and it wouldn’t been anywhere near possible without y’all, thank you so much!

Ben – Mama and Papa, thank you for pushing my comfort zone and giving me an amazing summer trip. Some of the friends and counselors I’ve met are all around just epic people and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Love y’all and thank you for everything that you do.

Phoebe- Thank you mom and dad for letting me have the opportunity to go on this trip. I am so so lucky to be given a chance to have a once in a lifetime trip like this. I’ve had so much fun and gotten to know so many people and it has been amazing. Love you very much<3

Blythe – Thank you mom for allowing me to come on this trip. I have had the best time and have made so many lifelong friendships that I am so excited about. I am so lucky to be your daughter. I can’t wait to see you soon!

Hollyn – Mom and Dad, thank you so much for letting me do Moondance. I have had so much fun and made memories that will last a lifetime. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip and I can’t wait to tell y’all about it. Love you and see you very soon!

Mary-Louise – Mom and Dad, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to experience things like this. I have met some amazing friends and memories that will last me a lifetime. I am so fortunate to have you as my parents. I couldn’t have had a better trip and can’t wait to tell you everything. Love you so much and thank you.

Jordan- Thank you Dad for this amazing opportunity. You have no idea how incredible this has been and how many once in a lifetime things I have been able to do these past couple of weeks. I have never felt so relaxed and at peace with myself and the world around me. I have met amazing people both in my group and the locals around me that have made a impact on me as a person. I am so incredibly lucky and grateful every day that I got the most amazing father and best friend a daughter could ask for. Thank you for being my biggest supporter always. Can’t wait to see you soon.

Zachary – Mom and Dad, thank you for giving me this opportunity to spend 2 weeks doing amazing things with some pretty amazing people. It’s almost over and while I’m sad to leave I can’t wait to see y’all when I touchdown in DFW. I love y’all and I’ll be home soon.

Anson- Thank you Mom for this cool opportunity to see and do things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I will remember the people and things on this trip for a long time and you gave me that chance. I love you and I can’t wait to see you soon.

John- As I venture into my final days of Moondance, I realize how important these last two weeks have been. I’ve done some of the coolest things in my life, and I have met some amazing people. I just wanted to thank the both of you for a trip I will never forget. Love you Mom and Dad.

Jake – Mom and Dad, coming into this trip I had no idea what to expect. But now as I have reached the end of this trip I realize how fun it was and how fortunate I am and I appreciate it so much. As y’all know I’m a person who doesn’t like to fall out of my comfort zone and this trip really was far out of that. I appreciate y’all pushing me out of my comfort zone and giving me super cool opportunities like this.

Ginny- Our last few days are flying by and during those, I continue to realize how lucky I am. Being able to experience this trip as well as many others with my friends and family are the best times of my life and I’m so glad I have those opportunities. Thank you for allowing me to experience all of those things, I love you guys and will see you soon.

Kickin it in Kauai!

July 3, 2022

We have officially landed on Kauai and the group could not be happier! Such a beautiful island with so much to do, and we have an incredibly busy week lined up.

We spent our last day on the Big Island going on the Green Sands Beach hike which was incredible. A beachside trail leading to a crystal blue cove was the perfect ending to the 2-mile hike. Anson found some cool spots to cliff jump! He had sparked a desire to keep on cliff-jumping, one wasn’t enough! We decided to head back to the car and go to South Point- the Southernmost part of the United States or the “end of the world”. Everyone jumped off the side and made it safely back to shore! John even did some tricks off the side. Luckily Phoebe and Jordan got a souvenir T-shirt to prove to everyone back home that they made the big jump. After cliff jumping, we drove to a local deli and had some of the most delicious Hawaiian/ Asian fusion food. Shoutout to Zach for graciously sharing his Teriyaki chicken so we could all try it out! We promised John that we’d get some shaved ice so we made a quick pit stop in Hilo before heading out to Mauna Kea to watch the sunset.

Something that we learned on our last session is that Hawaii has various climate zones. So, when we went up the mountain last time in swimsuits and tank tops, we swiftly realized that we had made a mistake! But not again! This time we were prepared with blankets, pants, and sweatshirts, so the cooler weather wasn’t bad. Mary Louise got some rad pictures on her digital camera that we all can’t wait to get back after the session. Blythe and Hollyn got a little cold up there, so they led some of the group back to the van for some warmth and snacks! A group stayed behind and had a ukulele jam session. Ben gave his singalong rendition of “Ripped Pants” from SpongeBob and we’re currently working on another one of his requests from a Disney short. We love that our leader, Garrett can play the ukulele!


The group all rejoined at our viewing spot with high spirits, full bellies and big smiles. Colin was able to see a shooting star from the summit before heading down as LOD to make pizzas for everyone which was super amazing. The warm pizzas got everyone feeling full, warm and ready to hit the road back to camp! It was a late car ride, but lucky for everyone who stayed awake, they were able to have a once and a lifetime opportunity to hear Jake spit freestyle. It was epic. Give him a beat and he can go on forever. We hit the hay early as we had to get up at the crack of dawn for our flight to Kauai. Good thing the kids don’t have watches! We woke them up at 4 in the morning, but they will never know the difference! We got everyone’s stuff packed up, but most importantly, we couldn’t forget Ginny’s 10-pound bag of candy that we have made our mission to finish before the trip is over. We then made it safely to Kauai!

All of the kids wrote post cards on the plane ride over, so you should be expecting some mail after this long holiday weekend! After weather conditions shifted out itinerary and our sea-kayaking, the kids got right to making a new plan! These kids are so positive and optimistic, always looking for the bright side of every situation. We could put them in a sandbox, and they could still find a way to make it fun and enjoyable for several hours. We’re so fortunate to have this group for another week, and we can’t wait to see all that they do! Now a message from the kids….


Colin- what’s goin on mom and pops, I’m having a great time here with some awesome and hilarious people, we’ve done a ton of activities and I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it. We went to the southern most point of the United States and we cliff jumped off it, it was so sick! Anyways, we just got to Kauai and so far it’s been pretty awesome and I can’t wait to see y’all. P.S. happy birthday momma, I love you!

Jake – Hello mi familia, I’ve had a great time so far. We’ve done a lot of fun stuff. I can’t wait to tell y’all about it. So far cliff jumping has been my favorite. Can’t wait to see y’all again.

John – hello my family. Hawaii has been pretty awesome so far. The locals here are sick, and the waves have been good. My favorite part was definitely the cliff jumping, and the hike to the volcano was also really cool. At the top of the volcano there were some amazing stars, but it was also 30 degrees. Miss y’all and love y’all

Ben – How’s it going y’all. So far I’ve had a lot of fun on the islands of Hawaii. The counselors and the people I’ve met are super cool and we have made some great memories. I look forward to filling you in on everything that happened. I love y’all and I’ll see you soon.

Jordan- Hi Teddy and Dad! Hope you all are doing so well! I miss you guys tons. Dad how’s PE going haha 😉 Hawaii so far has been incredible. The most amazing thing so far has been the Manta snorkel. It was hands down the most incredible and surreal thing I have ever done. We also watched the sunset on a volcano it was so cool (and 30*!) I loved scuba diving and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. My favorite park was when the divemaster, my leader and I went off to look for a shark. We didn’t find one but it was exciting anyway. We have also had so much good food! I love cooking and this morning I made breakfast burritos they were a big hit! I also set up my hammock at the new camp and woke up this morning and read a whole book. Love you both tons and please tell Susu and G-daddy hi for me!

Anson- Hey mom and dad. I have had an awesome time here so far. We have done many fun activities like scuba-diving and hiking. We also jumped off of the most southern point in the United States. We are also surfing and hiking again later in the week. I miss you and I’m excited to see you again. Love you

Hollyn – Hey Mom and Dad! I’m having so much fun in Hawaii. I have met some amazing people and I love my leaders. My favorite part of the trip so far was the Manta Ray snorkel. I saw a huge Manta Ray do a back flip right in front of me. Today is our first day in Kauai and I can’t wait to tell y’all about it. I love y’all and can’t wait to see you soon <3

Ginny- Aloha family. It is I, your favorite child. I am currently on the island of Kauai living it up. my favorite part of the trip so far has been the manta ray snorkel which I tell you about in my letter to you. Mom, you may need to get a new neck pillow as I have used yours to it’s max. Can you please make reservations at melting pot or nakatos on the 10th around 6? Thanks! I miss everyone a lot and am really excited to share everything about the trip when I get home. Love you guys and see you soon.

Blythe- ALOHA we are having a slay time in Hawaii and are otw to the beachhhh :))))) I’m loving all of the fruit and juices and açaí bowls, and I can’t wait to make some concoctions for y’all when I get home. I love all of my new friends and leaders. We are laughing constantly and loving the sun. I also love the leaders. They are all super kind and smiley. Don’t miss me too much!XoXo – B

Mary-Louise – heyyy mom and dad! we are having the best time in hawaii. we just got to kauai today. i am having a blast with everyone in my group. my favorite things so far have been scuba diving, cliff jumping, and the night snorkel with the manta rays. i hope you all are having a great time in sea island and charleston. mom, i am really hoping you did some shopping for me;)). i know bennett must be having trouble surviving his days without me. please let his know that i am irritated with him for losing one of the eno straps at school so it is currently unusable. i miss you guys lots(especially monkey). can’t wait to see you all and tell you so much more. love you<3

Phoebe – Aloha!!! We are having so much fun here, yesterday we went from the big island to Kauai. The group is so much fun. The other day I cliff jumped off of the southern most point of the US! It was about 50ft and probably the coolest thing I have ever done. I am officially scuba certified!! It was such a cool experience. The food has been great and I had the best shaved ice I have ever had. The airport took my sunscreen and I also lost all my toiletries, my bad. People are letting me share most things and I bought a toothbrush and toothpaste. I am so excited to see you guys in a couple days. Much love!!

Zachary – Hey y’alllll, I miss you guys so much, currently in Kauai headed out to the blowhole and then the beach. The first week was mainly the pool work with 2 shore and 2 boat dives. The last night of diving we did a killer Manta Ray snorkel and saw at least 10 rays that night. I can’t wait to see all of y’all; Mom, Dad, Cora, and the dogs. Love you and have a great 4th of July, just save some fireworks for when I’m back.


Talk soon!

Mary App, Garrett + Grace

Fun Days on the Islands!

June 30, 2022

Session 2 is officially underway, and we are moving full steam ahead! Today is our final day of scuba training, so we’ll be doing our open water dives to round up our certifications. We can’t wait to have our scuba pro Zachary point out his favorite marine creatures! Our students have gotten nothing but praise from the scuba instructors here in Kona. They are engaged, excited, high energy, and of course, Jake is always cracking jokes even when everyone is exhausted which makes it entertaining for us all.


In between scuba days, we’ve been hitting the beach, going on hikes, eating some good food, playing the ukulele, and settling into our roles at the campsite. Jordan is a fantastic cook and an even better leader. She is constantly asking how she can help and making sure everyone is settled and satisfied with their meals before she even starts eating her creations. She even offered to cook dinner every night if people didn’t want to, what a queen. Dinner on our first real camping night- stuffed bell peppers! Yum! Let me just tell y’all, this group can EAT. Our boys can go through an entire Costco pack of Cliff bars in less than a day. One of them even had 6 in one sitting which I honestly don’t know if that’s alarming or impressive, but regardless, we love to see it!


Our days are long and very fun, but they can also be super tiring so it’s great that they’re fueling themselves! That just means we have to work on our grocery shopping hauls as leaders, think we might have to learn a thing or two from the Duggars LOL. On the second day, all of the boys, led by a persistent Anson, insisted on going to get boogie boards to shred the gnar as the waves have been insane here! Perfect conditions. We used our extra mile budget to get some boogie boards for them all, and we had to go to a few beaches to find the best and safest waves, but we settled on Kua Bay. The girls got some sun, and the boys explored the beach. A much-needed break after a day of scuba!


After that, a quick Walmart run and then we were off to the campsite to make dinner/ hang out under the tent. Something about Hawaii this time of year is that the centipedes are OUT TO PLAY. Luckily, these aren’t venomous, but tent #3 had an interesting wakeup call on night 2! Hollyn and Phoebe were champs and have truly braved the wilderness this trip, always keeping high spirits even though it seems the centipedes really love them! We cleared the tent and sealed the zipper in with some duct tape so there’d be no room for anything to come in…a fantastic idea from our very own, Ginny. After that experience, Ben decided to show the centipedes who was boss of the camp. He had a close encounter with another one- man vs centipede. But at the end of the day, man prevailed! Sweet victory.


The following day the boys took off with boogie boards on our campsite’s beachside access. John took the liberty of surfing the waves with the locals, even showed them a few tricks! After everyone got cleaned up, we had the best chicken quesadillas with guac, cheffed up by our amazing leaders of the day, Mary Louise and John. During dinner Zachary gave us just a few of his many fun facts that always keep us thinking and asking questions. Great conversation starters for sure.


Another day in Kona brought another day of scuba but not without some free time to roam the village and to continue the hunt for the best eats in town. We had a harbor dinner before our nightly excursion- Colin’s first poke bowl that turned out not to be an actual poke bowl! Last night was our manta ray snorkel which was surreal. On the ride to our snorkel spot Jake and Anson took a quick nap on the boat before diving into the water! We had two mantas below our surfboards do a perfectly choreographed flip within inches of us. One of them came out of nowhere probably a few centimeters from Colin’s face and caught him off guard so badly he almost dropped his Go Pro. Good news is we have footage to prove it! The best part of the whole night was the hot showers, one thing Blythe couldn’t wait for.


The boat ride back was relaxing and beautiful with the island lights in the distance leading us back to the harbor, and after a quick moon up we concluded another perfect day on the big island. Awoken with pancakes and a much-needed sleep in morning, the kids are ready to attack the day! Currently writing this on our diving boat, we’ll let you all know how it goes on the next update, TTYL!!!



Garrett, Mary App, + Grace

Kickin it in Kona!

June 27, 2022

Hello Hawaiian Islands 2A Families!

We just heard from our leaders late last night that the group has landed safely in Kona. The trip is off to a great start and headed to their first campsite, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventures.

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


  • Anson
  • Ben
  • Blythe
  • Colin
  • Ginny
  • Hollyn
  • Jake
  • John
  • Jordan
  • Mary-Louise
  • Phoebe
  • Zachary