July 28, 2022
Hello Family and Kiddos,
At this point, you are all home safely and we can’t even begin to describe how much we miss you. Our goodbyes were so sad, but hopefully reading this will bring back some memories as we recap the last few days of our trip.
It is hard to believe we are at the third and final portion of our trip: Zanzibar! It is so fun to end our experience in such a beautiful place. After a final breakfast in Kenya and a travel day from Maasai Mara to the Nairobi airport to Zanzibar, we touched down on the tropical paradise that is Zanzibar. During our travels, all of the boys purchased an authentic Maasai robe and were sporting them in the airport. Wilder looked especially epic with his beaded necklace and bright blue robe. When we landed in Zanzibar, the sun was shining and the kids were so excited to see the beach and crystal blue waters. Harper and Olivia were jamming to some Taylor Swift. We arrived to our resort just as the sun was setting and ate an incredible dinner of pasta, soup, mashed potatoes, salad, chicken wings, and chocolate cake. YUM! Our first Zanzibar Moon-Up was led by leaders of the day Thomas and Liv. Seated on the beach, under the stars, we chatted about what we are most excited about in Zanzibar. Many peoples responses were as expected… scuba and sunshine! Liv also offered some awesome insight about reflecting on our time in Kenya and making sure we remember that the people we met were not in need of our pity, but instead our respect. Super great conversation to have and we all benefited from it. We headed down to the beach. Gilman caught a ghost crab with his bare hands and then it was bed time to prepare for our first day of diving!! Woohoo!!
On our first morning in Zanzibar, Ava and Liv kick-started the day with a run on the beach. The two have made a goal to run every morning that they can. They finished and helped James wake the rest of the group up. Then, over a delicious breakfast of toast, beans, crepes, doughnuts, and fruit galore, Hazen and Gilman told us stories of a cat that managed to make its way into their room during the night. Gilman tried to scare the cat away with some of his Maasai weapons but to no avail. It did end up leaving though, thank goodness. Our group had two different departure times for scuba. The first group that left was already certified and going for their advanced. Wilder, Harper, Liv, Thomas, Brooks, Liza, and Dylan got picked up first to make their way to the scuba center, quickly get fitted and get their equipment ready to head out on a boat for an open-water dive. They had an awesome time and saw lots of fish, eels, starfish, and other under-water critters. The rest of the group went to the pool to go over scuba basics. The pool crew crushed it and, though the water temperature was a bit chilly in the pool, Olivia, Gilman, Emily, and Caryline had incredible attitudes and learned all they needed to know. The two groups merged around lunchtime and headed back to our home base. After a delicious all-American lunch of pizza, pasta, french-fries, avocado toast, and more, we got to enjoy the afternoon lounging on the beach. Gilman, Dylan, and Hazen went for a beach walk and found some sea-urchins and crabs. Wilder, Liza, and James ventured to a grocery store to pick up some Nutella, Peanut Butter, and other snacks. The girls had some good “Girl Talk” and bonded laying on the beach and in hammocks. We had an incredible dinner of pesto pasta, tuna filets, salad, and fried bananas for dessert! We are eating good in Zanzibar!! Moon-Up was led by Brooks and Harper near the hammocks at our place. They asked us where we saw ourselves in ten years. We had some great answers and while laughing and telling stories afterwards one of the hammocks actually ended up breaking and Emily, Wilder, James, and Ava fell to the floor. Goes to show you probably shouldn’t fit four people in a hammock. We will remember that next time. More tomorrow!
Day 2 in Zanzibar! Woohoo!! We got to sleep in this morning. Ava and Liv ran again this AM. Breakfast was a hit. Eggs, Nutella crepes, toast, veggies, and more. We had to get some good fuel to prepare us for another full day in the Tanzanian sun. We hit the open waters for the first day with everyone on the boat. While diving, Ava, Gilman, Caryline, Olivia, and Emily found a octopus hiding in a coral. Caryline did some underwater flips. Gilman aka Gilfish was having the time of his life. That boy belongs in the ocean. The advanced group cruised through the certification tasks. It was overall an amazing day of diving. We headed back to our hotel for a late lunch and had a quick turn around. We drove to a sea turtle aquarium 45 minutes away that allowed you to pet, feed, and swim with sea turtles. Liv was happy as can be. We then ventured to a nearby beach to watch the sunset and eat some ice cream. We took adorable photos and ate our ice cream. We also managed to find a volleyball net and play a couple points in a heated match of volleyball. Brooks lost a bet and had to go up to random strangers, pretending to sell them something. Wilder lost a bet and had to fake propose to Ava. Gilman jumped in a hotel pool just for fun. No bets are needed for that guy. We drove back, ate dinner, and had Moon-Up led by Dylan and Olivia. To open the Nug-Jug, Dylan dove in the pool. It was a lovely day and evening.
The third day of Scuba diving was equally as successful as the first two. We had an early start and headed out on the boat all together for the first time! James’s speaker kept the vibes high. Caryline and Gilman spotted an octopus. Liza found some sea snakes. Harper, Liv, Thomas, and Wilder conquered the deep dive and identified and drew fish underwater. Wilder’s drawing resembled an alien more than a fish but the team passed with flying colors. We headed back for an incredible lunch of mushroom penne pasta, chapati quesadillas, veggies, and French fries. The boys then left for a fishing excursion. Though they did not catch anything, they did see a lot of fish from their boat and had a great time. Meanwhile, the girls hung back and had a little ~treat yo self~ afternoon of massages and pool lounging. Emily and Liza, Caryline and Harper, and Olivia and Liv all got couples massages and came out looking very relaxed. We showered up for dinner and had a Moon-Up led by Gilman and Emily. We chatted about our favorite part of the trip so far and favorite words in the dictionary. James serenaded the group with a song he wrote that left Ava in tears. It was a lovely evening. We can’t believe we only have one full day left together. It’s flying by too quickly.
Yep. And just like that, we have reached the final full day of this trip. So crazy to believe. We began the day with a high energy wake up call. James and Ava cranked some Miley Cyrus and had a dance party in each of the kid’s rooms. Liv was already up, as she went for a morning run with Ava. The sun was shining and everyone was in high spirits. We headed to scuba fish and got to be on the same boat all together again- woo!! We continued the dance party on the boat. Our boat captains laughed at us as we belted “Proud to be an American.” While diving, Caryline, Thomas, and Gilman found a shrimp, lobster, and tons of fish. Wilder, Thomas, Liv, and Harper successfully completed their advanced certification after taking some high-quality underwater photos of fishies!! They all crushed it and we are so proud!! After diving, we headed out for our final excursion of the trip. We drove in a van to Stone Town, the most populated town with historical significance in Zanzibar (we got to see the place where Freddie Mercury grew up and learn about the Portugal and Indian influence in creating stone town as a defense against Arab invasion in 1600.) Now, Stone Town is a blend of all people and cultures. We heard about the history and went on a shopping spree. Wilder wowed us with his incredible negotiation skills. Brooks got a funky shirt and sported it around town. Hazen and Gil went shopping for some authentic tanzanite and also a slingshot. We had a fantastic ice cream stop. Liv and Liza were delighted to find an iced coffee. 10/10 time.
For our banquet dinner, we found a rooftop spot that overlooks the port of Stone Town. We all ordered from an extensive menu and Ava and James gave out paper-napkin awards. Dinner was delicious. As is typical with this group, during dinner we played more games of “What are the Odds” and cracked up as Gilman had to chat up a french woman sitting at a table and Ava had to ask a dude his workout routine. Caryline, Liv, Olivia, and Harper got some awesome hand-henna tattoos. Dylan did his infamous chicken dance and our whole crew joined in with some Zanzibar musicians playing at the restaurant. The fellow guests eating at the restaurant were laughing at our group’s dance party and filming it. Liza even got the chance to sing a song and play guitar for the restaurant. The musicians loved it. But alas, our night came to an end. We headed back home from Stone Town, singing country and chatting on the way back. Caryline and Thomas led Moon-Up, asking us about our favorite funny story from the trip and what we think would be the most epic way to die. Pretty morbid but we had some funny answers. We all enjoyed a final night together, talking, laughing, and telling stories under a clear night of stars. Tomorrow we prepare for our big trek back to the USA. We are definitely not ready for those goodbyes.
Yep. Still not ready for the goodbyes. Ava here. I am writing this from the final hours of this trip before we begin our long trek home. I am certain I can speak for both James and me when I say that this trip- specifically the third session of this trip- was unforgettable. We laughed non-stop at Gilman’s antics, jammed to country music and all of Caryline’s fire aux choices, and loved seeing friendships like Emily and Liza bloom into life-long connections. We watched Wilder become a negotiating wizard. We heard Brooks and Harper’s incredible singing voices. We listened to Hazen’s mad-rap skills. We saw Dylan’s incredible chicken dance. We celebrated as Olivia held Bob up on her shoulders with a huge grin on her face and Thomas received a little note from a Kenyan boy with his name in a heart. We rocked the friendship bracelet that Liv made for us. We did all of that AND spent two weeks traveling through Africa completing service projects, going for safari drives, and scuba diving in Zanzibar. What an incredible time we have had. It is a bittersweet feeling to know that our time has come to an end and we are headed home today.
To the kiddos, If there is one thing that James and I want you all to know… it is that you are capable. You are capable of so many incredible things. You are strong and powerful and have wonderful futures ahead of you. As James says, wake up every morning and tell yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to. You all have overcome a really daunting challenge. Flying to a different CONTINENT, across the world, with strangers. You can do hard things and we are so proud of each and every one of you for coming on this trip and stretching your horizon. We trust that you will continue to do so as you venture to college and beyond. Please keep the Moondance motto “Live in the Moment” close to your heart. Be present. Show up for yourself and others. Choose love over judgement and lead with a grateful heart. The past two and a half weeks have been a wild and crazy adventure… thank you for being such rockstars every single step of the way. We love you. We are proud of you. We cannot wait to see where the wild, crazy adventure that is life will take you.
LOVE YOU GUYS!!!
Ava and James
July 21, 2022
The second section of our trip is spent in the Maasai Mara. There is something truly special about this portion of the trip. The Maasai people are some of the kindest and most welcoming in the world. From our very first arrival, they made every single effort to show our kids love and respect and make their stay as comfortable as possible. They also did an incredible job of making sure our time with them was both meaningful and informative. After a drive from Lake Naivasha to our next camp, and a delicious lunch of Chapati, vegetables, rice, and meat, we kicked off our adventures with the Maasai tribe by going on a “Warrior Walk.” Led by real Maasai warriors Luka, Jackson, and Kelvin, we headed into the African bush. Along the way, we made several stops to learn about the various flora and fauna that the land has and how these herbs are used in cooking and medicine. We all got the opportunity to chew on some “Black Bark Acacia tree” which is used as a source for water by warriors when they venture into the bush. The boys split off with Jackson and Kelvin and crafted some spears from branches from the tree. Then, as is tradition in Maasai culture, they greeted the girls with a traditional song and dance to try and win their approval and had a competition of who could throw the spear the farthest. Not sure our ladies were too impressed with their spear skills but Gilman showed some real dominance with the next portion of warrior-hood where he got to show off his bow and arrow skills. The competitions did not stop there. In Maasai culture, whichever man can jump the highest is said to be able to attract the most ladies. Though Wilder showed strong promise with his height, Dylan stepped up to the plate and got some serious air. The girls all got to compete, too, Liv and Olivia Beaver really enjoyed the spear-throwing. Emily tried her best with the bow and arrow but it went merely inches. Harper especially enjoyed the warrior competitions because she got to rock a traditional warrior headdress made of monkey fur. We ended the excursion with a good ol’ fashioned tree climb. Hazen, Thomas, Liv, and Ava all scaled the tree with ease and got a beautiful view of the hillside from the top of the tree. When we returned back to the camp, we showered and had a fantastic dinner. Leaders of the day Wilder and Emily led us through a Moon-Up around a bonfire where we chatted about your favorite musical artist and what we value the most. We ended the evening with a howl to the moon.
The next day was Monday morning and school for many of the Maasai children was back in session after a 10-day break. We got the opportunity to join the kids at the local school on their first day back. When we arrived, the kids were immediately greeted by fist-bumps, high fives, and huge smiles. Liza (our decided-upon group Mom) found an adorable 2 year old girl and held her. It was so cute. We walked around to different classrooms and marveled as kids as young as 6 and as old as 17 sung and danced in front of us (strangers from a foreign land) with so much confidence. We sang some songs back in classic-repeat-after-me style. After the classroom visits, we had a short recess where we really got to engage with the kiddos. After song-singing, we went on break. The schoolyard was the best kind of chaos. Hazen and Gilman had kids on their back. Emily, Olivia, and Harper got braids from local girls. Brooks, Dylan, Wilder, and Thomas were bro-ing out with some of the boys, chatting sports. Liza was being her motherly self- surrounded by adoring children. Liv made a bunch of the girls’ bracelets with the string she brought. It was amazing to see and the interactions warmed James and Ava’s hearts to see how happy the kids were to make some new friends. We returned to the classroom for one final lesson. We joined the school’s environmental club to talk about Wildlife Conservation and the importance of protecting animals, resisting poaching, not using plastic, and recycling. We drew animals with the kids and wrote environmentally friendly messages on the pictures. We headed back to the camp for a lunch of rice, sautéed spinach, veggies, and guacamole. Definitely a healthy lunch but we had to eat light to prep for our next activity: an afternoon soccer game with the kids!! We returned to the school, James led some stretches and a warm-up lap, and then the games began. Wilder was head of our defense and had some solid boots up the field. Liza did not realize that your forearms also counted as a handball so Brooks told her to just kick the ball to the other side and that tactic seemed to work better. Thomas crushed it as striker and had a killer goal. Our subs on the sidelines were playing games with the rest of the kiddos and learning some tribal dances. Harper, Olivia Beaver, and Ava taught the Macarena. It was all a blast and we made memories we will never forget. Liv had tears in her eyes as she said goodbye to the kids. We returned home, ate a delicious dinner of pasta, mashed potatoes, veggies, and fruit dessert. Moon-Up was around the fire again and leaders of the day Hazen and Harper asked us our favorite quality of ourselves, what we want to improve about ourselves, and asked us to do our best impressions. After some group late night chats in the tents, we hit the hay and prepped for the next day!
We spent all day Tuesday the 19th on safari: our final safari of our trip. The only animals our group still wanted to see were a male lion, a leopard, and a cheetah. Luckily for us, we knocked out all three in the Maasai Mara reserve. We spotted a male lion, female lion, and teenage male napping together near a recent kill of a zebra. Then, we found a leopard at the bottom of a tree with its recent kill IN the tree! It was so cool to see. There were also so many wildebeest in the reserve because it is the time of year when they migrate. Because of the large amounts of wildebeests, we found dead wildebeests scattered throughout the reserve with vultures pecking at the remains. Pretty gnarly. Hazen thought it was pretty cool. We found an awesome spot for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, chips, bananas, juice, and pasta salad in a grassy spot. After lunch, we drove to the river where we spotted some hippos and crocodiles sunbathing. On the drive back, Gilman, Brooks, Olivia, Emily, Carolyne, and Dylan jammed to some Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold.” Liza, Harper, Liv, Thomas, Wilder, and Hazen were jamming to Rhianna’s “Umbrella”. It was a great time. The final highlight from our game reserve experience was spotting three cheetahs stalking a nearby buffalo prey. Leaving the reserve, we bought some nifty bracelets from a group of Maasai women selling local jewelry. Gilman, Brooks, and Dylan bought some authentic Maasai warrior gear. We made it back to the camp, ate dinner of chapati, veggies, and meat and had Moon-Up. Caryline and Gilman led an awesome conversation about what experience has been the most impactful for us so far. It was really fun to listen to everyone’s answers and hear how many of the local kids have created an impact in these kids’ lives.
Our final full day in the Maasai Mara was probably the best one yet. We woke up with the sun and ate some delicious breakfast of fried doughnuts, omelets, potatoes, and toast. Then, we had the incredible opportunity to go into the Maasai village. We were greeted with a warrior song and a dance from the local women as well. After we entered the village, we were introduced to a variety of activities custom to the Maasai people. First up was fire-starting. Wilder, Caryline, Hazen, Dylan, and Gilman gave their best effort but failed in their attempts to make fire through friction. Second on our Maasai tour was a tour of the traditional Maasai hut – made from cow poop, clay, and sticks. As a part of the tour, we helped a woman form the walls of the hut. Gilman was eager to help, volunteering to be the first to spread the mix. Then, we went into another hut and made Ugali, an authentic Kenyan dish. Harper, Wilder, and Olivia were the first to try the dish. Our final stop on the Maasai village tour was beading with the women. Liza and Liv created a strong bond with two of the village elders. Though they did not speak the same language, they bonded through the act of beading bracelets. On the way out of the village, the kids were able to stop by the Maasai market so they could get some gifts for themselves and their family. Brooks, Wilder, and Hazen balled out on a variety of gifts. We came back to the camp for lunch and played a game of “Speed Dating” while waiting for the food to be prepared. We each answered a question and rotated 14 times. After lunch, we got to go back to the school! We played a final game of soccer and bonded with the kids. We lost the game 2-1 but still had a lot of fun. On the sidelines, Caryline taught some of the kids bubblegum, bubblegum in a dish. Brooks and Liza lifted the kids in the air with the kids cracking up. Olivia gave a little boy named Brian a piggy back-ride. Again, more tears were shed as we said goodbye to the kids for a final time. We walked home, saw a gorgeous African sunset, and had a dinner of fried tilapia, mashed potatoes, and veggies. Moon-Up was led by Wilder and Liza. The stars were incredible and we sat around a fire, sharing stories and memories. Tomorrow we head to Zanzibar for the final segment of this trip. It is a bittersweet feeling to leave Kenya.
Ta-Ta for now!
Ava and James
Hey Mom and Dad,
Thank you for sending me on this trip. I am having the time of my life and cannot wait to see y’all. I can’t wait until we all come down to this special place as a family. I miss you guys so much, but honestly I don’t really want to see you yet. Love You SOOOOO much.
Hey Mom and Dad,
I’m having an amazing time. I miss you and hope everything is going great at home. Africa is awesome and so is my group. I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Love and miss you lots!
Hey guysssss (Kate, Mom, Dad, and Morgan family),
My nerves are gone and my zen is back. I’m having an amazing time here and the people we have met are so incredibly special. I had a tacky cry today while we were leaving the children because it was our last day in Kenya. I met this amazing little girl at the school who completely filled my heart. These people really make you feel like their family. I am eating lots of peanut butter banana sandwiches, hehe. I love you all and miss you lots! See you soon!
Kenya is incredible!! i miss you both dearly and especially Maxy. Please continue to let him sleep in my bed and ensure that he is comfy. I cannot wait to get to Zanzibar and be on Island time! (To Dad: I have added all of Jimmy Buffets best to the playlist, to ensure the best vibes). I love you both and cannot wait to see you! -Brooks
Hey guys! Having an absolute blast over here in Kenya ya know. Bought the whole family some gifts today at Maasai Mara and you will all be delighted. Also don’t worry, Liv is taking plenty of pictures for you Momma. Heading over to Zanzibar tomorrow to get tropical and groovy. See y’all in a week. Say hey to Lucy for me!
Hi guys! Africa is so cool. Dad, I took lots of cool pictures of the sunsets and mom the big camera lens was definitely the move. Lots of cool safari pics.Tomorrow me and Thomas are leaders of the day. Give Marsh and Boo some extra big cuddles for me and rub marshes belly extra. We went to the village today of the Maasai people and spent the last two days with the kids and it was crazy and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I did a lot of bargaining to buy bracelets and got gifts for you guys. Tomorrow we go to Zanzibar which apparently is two flights and ones on a little plane. Saw a really cute puppy today and almost had to stick my hands in a huge pile of cow poop to build a house but didn’t end up having to do that. Ok see you soon. Rada. Love you <3 – Liv
YALL! This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done! We have seen pretty much every animal ever and I’ve met some of the greatest people and have built relationships with the people of Kenya in ways I never thought I would be blessed enough to. The little girls at the school have become like sisters during the few hours we have had together, although they could never beat Lillie’s place in my life they come in at a close second. Saying goodbye to them today was genuinely crushing but they have taught me so much and I’m so thankful for them. The Lord has blessed my experience in so many ways and I feel so blessed and grateful to be here. I have so so so so so many stories to tell!! Love y’all lots and lots and I hope y’all figured out these trip updates exist bc that would be interesting if u read this after I got back. LOTS AND LOTS OF LOVE!! Give holly a kiss for me!! -Caryline
Hey parents! I am loving Kenya. A pig chomped on my chacos today. I am having so much fun and meeting so many people. I am not coming home. Kidding-I’ll see you soon!-Harper
I bought some cool stuff. I’m alive. I saw a lot of animals. Having a great time. Love you.
I am having the time of my life in Africa and I really don’t want to come home. I do miss you guys, but WOW this place is pretty amazing. Thank you for letting me come on this trip with these amazing people that are now my best friends! Love you all and I’ll see you in a week!
Hi Mom and Dad!
I am having a blast in Africa and really appreciate you guys for pushing me to go on this trip. I have learned so much from the Rhino conservancy we visited to the amazing Maasai tribe. The people here are really the nicest people in the world even though they have very little. I made a bunch of close friends at the Maasai school we visited, and they all wanted me to bring them home to the United States. Thank you once again for letting me come on this trip with all these amazing people, I love you guys and I’ll see you in a week!
I got to experience a leopard and met some pretty amazing people. sincerelyhazen !
July 18, 2022
Jambo jambo from Session 3!
We are officially in full swing for our last session in Kenya and Zanzibar. Whoever made up the saying “Last but not least” was exactly right. This group is amazing. From the very first evening in Nairobi, we could tell these kids were special. Everyone walked out of the airport with huge smiles on their faces. It takes a lot of courage to travel from the United States to Africa with a group of mainly strangers and these kiddos did it with ease. Our first night in Africa was spent getting to know each other over a late dinner. Gilman had a quick appetizer of sausage balls that he brought from home but said the soup we had at dinner was even better. After soup, we also got to have some meat, veggies, salad, and fruit. The kids were pretty exhausted from a long day of travel so we hit the hay quickly after. The morning came quickly so we rubbed the sleep out of our eyes, ate a breakfast of eggs, fruit, sausage, and toast and hopped in 2 seven-seater Land Cruisers to head to our next destination. The drive was around 4 hours but went by swiftly with lots of tunes and lively conversation. Thomas led some great conversation with the discussion of guilty pleasure songs. In our other Land Cruiser, Liv and Liza were resident vehicle DJ’s, very much impressing our driver who was loving their musical selections. We arrived at the Wildlife Conservancy and settled into our new home. Our afternoon activity was a bush walk. We spotted some zebras, water bucks, buffalo, and 2 elephants! There was an incredible full moon and our group had our first Moon-Up under it. Since they are the leaders of the trip, Ava and James were the first leaders of the day. They asked the group “Who are you grateful for helping put you on this trip?” and “What are you hoping to gain from this experience?”. This group has their head and heart in the right place. There were so many shout-outs to moms, dads, brothers and sisters, and attitudes of gratitude. We are so excited to see how the rest of this trip unfolds.
For our second full day at the Wildlife Conservancy, we transitioned from Wildlife to community engagement. Our group started the day with an insightful presentation from personnel at the Nature Conservancy. They educated us on how the conservancy supports the local community, as well as all of the education that takes place here at the facility. Following the presentation, we had a chance to get our hands dirty! We went to a local church where we packed soil into individual bags and then planted seeds inside of them. We covered a lot of ground in our conversations, from the passionate sports fanatics: Wilder, Thomas, Dylan, Hazen, Gilman, and Brooks, to the Kardashian Krewe: Olivia, Liv, Caryline, Liza, Emily, Harper, Ava, AND Thomas. We efficiently completed the tasks while jamming out to traditional and Red Dirt country. We had lunch in our Land Cruisers and then made our way to the home of Gilbert, a local man who specializes in crafting ovens for the community. Our first task was to break up dirt and then shovel it into a wheelbarrow, Liv and Caryline showed everyone how it was done, jumping in the hole and shoveling the dirt with ease. Wilder was our go-to wheelbarrow guy, not spilling any of the dirt. After the pile was made up, we transitioned to the sifting of the dirt into fine pieces. Olivia, Liza, Emily, and Harper exhibited some solid rhythm as they sifted through to get the best pieces. While we were sifting, Gilbert put on some Kenyan pop music. At this point, it was Dylan’s time to shine, he had everyone cracking up with an incredible rendition of the chicken dance. Gilbert even began referring to him as a chicken boy. Once the dirt was sifted, we took off our socks and shoes and pressed the mud with our feet. Quite the foot experience this was, the entire group was happy to jump in and move around. The last segment was Gilbert showing us how to shape the ovens by placing it into a round vessel, and then using a shaper to clear off the excess clay. Gilman, Dylan, Thomas, and Wilder took the lead on the final step of shaping the clay oven and trying their best to keep it in one piece! We always enjoy our time at Gilbert’s, he is an incredibly kind individual who carries joy with him everywhere. We left Gilbert’s and returned back to the Conservancy. Upon arrival, we immediately became enthralled in our first inaugural group match of “Three Hack Whack”- a game that blends dodgeball and hacky-sack. Olivia and Caryline hung on to be the last two standing. After playing games, it was SAFARI time! We were stoked to have our first real safari. We piled in the cruisers and took off for an adventure cruising around the conservancy. The sun began to set and we managed to spot hyenas, elephants, a giraffe (from afar), wart-hog, rhinos, and buffalo. Liv Como was amazed at all of the amazing cantaloupe on the game reserve. Yes you read that correctly. She said “Oh look! A cantaloupe,” pointing to an antelope. We had some good laughs after that. We also saw elephants (several babies), buffalo, and rhinos. The kids were pumped. After a delicious dinner of basmati rice and vegetables in a savory sauce, we had a Moon-Up around the fire pit. Thomas and Olivia were our first dynamic duo LOD’s, their questions included what has been the best meal of your life, and what was your biggest takeaway from the day. Hazen had everyone cracking up standing by his very descriptive meal from Chick-fil-a, the boy loves it. The second question produced some very insightful answers, this group is really focusing on being where their feet are, and as leaders, we are over the moon to know that. Moon-Up ended with a spontaneous riff-off! The girls and boys went back and forth with songs they all knew, singing loudly for all of the nearby animals to hear.
The third full day began with a filling breakfast of crepes, eggs, sausage, and cereal. After eating, the morning group movement squad did some Sally-Up’s (a musical squat and plank challenge). Liv, Olivia, Emily, Liza, Caryline and Harper are going to be super fit by the end of this session! Liv and Emily gave Thomas, Gilman, and James some pointers on their handstands. Dylan impressed the group with some one-arm pushups and Gilman did his best monkey impression by doing some pull-ups from a tree. This group is quite active and we are loving it! After our cardio portion, Ava led a group yoga cool down. A short time later, we piled into our Land Cruisers and rode to the Northern White Rhino Habitat. We did a little work, helping the caretakers clean out some animal stalls and then rolling a bale of hay out towards one of the fields. As a reward for the work we had done, our guide led us into the habitat where we had truly one of the most rare experiences, the chance to pet and interact with the last two remaining Northern White Rhinos on Earth. The group was in awe at these majestic animals and how gentle they could be, Harper even gave one a kiss on its forehead! The group was giddy the rest of the walk back to the Land Cruisers, soaking in what a special experience it was to see these two animals. We rode back to our lodging where we were served a bountiful lunch including: Ugali (a staple dish for the people of Kenya), beef, cabbage, and gravy. The food here is delicious. After lunch we all got back into an intense game of Three Hack Whack with Olivia coming out on top! We killed some time playing Black-Jack before taking off on our afternoon activity: Lion tracking! The girls were all in one land cruiser and had a lovely time listening to some music and snapping pictures. Emily saw a giraffe and almost cried from her excitement. Liza chatted with our driver, Emanuel, and Liv made him a bracelet to thank him for driving. The boy’s cruiser had a brush up with an Acacia tree and some ants managed to sneak their way into the car. To remedy the situation, the boys all decided to go shirtless for the rest of lion tracking. The girls were cracking up as we watched a car full of shirtless boys observing some lions. When we got back to the camp, we showered, ate dinner, and had Moon-Up. Dylan and Liza were our leaders of the day and pulled off an awesome prank. They had a man staying at the camp interrupt our Moon-Up and tell us some lions were in the brush nearby. Dylan sprinted away and came back to open the Nug-Jug. For those who are not familiar, the Nug-Jug is an imaginary jug that we fill with positive affirmations every night. The rest of Moon-Up was spent discussing what the people we have met have taught us so far and trying out our best pick-up lines. The evening concluded with another Riff-Off and some more Black Jack with bottle caps as chips. Dylan played as the “house” and won. Brooks played well and broke even. More game updates to come.
We began our final morning in the Wildlife Conservancy by eating breakfast of Nutella crepes. We then hopped in the cruisers for a morning drive to Lake Naivasha, a large freshwater lake in Kenya with hippos!! On the drive, Hazen, Wilder, and James had a great conversation about college football. Then, Olivia Beaver, Liza, Wilder, Thomas, Liv, and Hazen tried to solve some of James’ many riddles. Meanwhile, in Ava’s car, a very heated game called the “Animal Game” was taking place. The finalists were Dylan, Gilman, and Caryline. Before we knew it, we had arrived and had lunch at a restaurant on Lake Naivasha. Our campsite was overlooking the lake and we enjoyed an afternoon of sunshine and a boat ride around the lake!! The group was so excited to see some hippos. Liza was especially stoked to see a hippo because it is her favorite animal. Harper got some sick go-pro videos from the perspective of a hippo. After the boat ride, we whipped out the frisbee and had some more handstand contests. The girls and James made a human pyramid and got a cute photo. We had a delicious dinner at the restaurant where the kids got to order their own meals. Meals ranged from nachos to pizza to curry to pasta to salads. We played some silly games of what are the odds and pretended that it was James’s birthday. While eating dinner, a crazy coincidence occurred. A girl named Brooke who had just summited Kilimanjaro with a different Moondance group happened to be staying at the same camp with her family. She recognized our Moondance sweatshirts and we chatted to her. We invited her to our Moon-Up led by Liv and Brooks (leaders of the day) and got to chat about love languages. It was so cool bonding with someone from a different session. Wilder and Ava played a quick round of ping-pong after dinner and then it was off to bed to prepare for the next section of our trip: the Maasai Mara! We will check-in again soon!! Until then, hope all is well back in the US! The kids are happy and healthy and having the time of their lives!
Ta-Ta for now!
Ava and James
July 12, 2022
Hello Kenya + Zanzibar Families!
We heard from our leaders late last night that the group has landed safely in Nairobi. The trip is off to a great start as they begin their animal conservation today, 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!