July 28, 2022
Hey there SAF 3A friends and families,
At this time, all of your children have returned home safely. We hope they are telling you stories and having laughs when reminiscing on our time together! We wanted to give you a recap of our last few days together.
Teary eyed, we are checking in one last time as we head to the Johannesburg airport for our final goodbyes. Over the past few days, our time together has been perfectly capped off by reflection, bonding, and some of the most incredible experiences of the entire trip. Throughout these final days, we have experienced such a broad range of emotions. There has been so much laughter and joy, deep conversations that have brought us even closer than we’d imagined was possible, and tears that reflect just how amazing our time together has been and how difficult it is to leave this group. The laughter, thought, and tears of the past few days have filled us up and reminded how special this group has been—while we must leave, we do so with twelve new best friends and incredible memories we’re sure will last a lifetime.
July 24th , 2022
After arriving safely back in South Africa, we began to make our way out of Johannesburg towards our home for the last two nights together. While the group was prepared for a couple nights of reflection and preparation for the final goodbyes, they had no idea where this would take place. As the group has come to understand well, the two of us are full of surprises! Afters pending the last two days of our time in Mozambique convincing them otherwise, we announced we would be returning to the South African bush by playing “The Circle of Life” on our van speakers while we pulled into Dinokeng Game Reserve. The two of us loved seeing the pure shock and excitement on everyone’s faces. Once we arrived, we enjoyed a delicious dinner
and continued to celebrate Annabeth’s birthday with a special cake! Afterwards, we enjoyed another incredible Moonup around the fire and prepared for our last full day together.
July 25 th , 2022
On our final day, we were all blown away once again by the spectacular scenery of the SouthAfrican bush. The entire time, we were constantly reminded of the amazing memories this group had created over the past two weeks. Story after story was shared, and the group continued toshare laughter and fun. Throughout the afternoon, the constant laughter and fun reflected both a theme of this trip and the mindset of the group that day—to make the most of each moment wehave together and make this trip the adventure of a lifetime.
Amidst all the hilarious conversation and bonding within the vehicle, we were startled when we turned a corner on one of the reserve’s dirt roads to find we were face to face with a massive elephant. The elephant was slowly walking down the road along with several members of its group nearby. Once we were reassured by our guides, we understood the Elephant intended to walk right by us and continue walking down the road. As the elephant approached and passed us by, we were all in shock. It was so close we could have reached out and touched it! Once the magnificent and massive creature had passed, we all turned to each other with huge smiles and shock on our faces. Sharing this incredible experience was absolutely the highlight of the day and one of the most incredible moments of the entire trip.
After taking in our last sunset together in Africa and recounting stories of the elephant, we made our way back to the lodge for our final Moonup together. Vivi and Louise led the way with an incredible quote to set the tone of the evening. In the same way that the past few days has encapsulated so many emotions, Moonup covered it all—we told stories of all the jokes from the trip, remembered some of our fondest incredible animal sightings and experiences, and spent some time in thought and in tears reflecting on just how amazing these two weeks together has been. As many of us reflected, us included, we are so grateful to know each member of the group and to have shared such a special experience with them. The adventure, bonding, and fun of the past two weeks has left us feeling completely changed.
July 26th , 2022
Now in our final few hours together, we can’t believe we have to say our final goodbyes very soon. With the group still sharing stories and laughter in the back of the van as we drive to the airport, the two of us have had some more time to reflect on the past two weeks and the feelings going through our minds now. We are so incredibly proud of Vivi, Annabeth, Elle, Louise, Eva, Adriana, Elsa, Hammett, Hamm, and Locke for going into each experience on this trip with the same intentional desire to have an incredible adventure and build friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. The unbelievable amount of life this group has brought to such a short time together makes it so difficult to say goodbye. We are so thankful to be a part of this amazing group. We love you all and can’t wait to hear about where this group’s desire for adventure takes them next!
With so much love and gratitude,
Browning and Henry
July 26, 2022
Hi SAF 3A friends and families! Checking in from warm and sunny MOZAMBIQUE!
We are writing this update with sun-kissed faces and very full hearts. It has been an absolutely
unforgettable five days. With extraordinary weather, unbelievable wildlife sightings, and days full
of laughter, our time in Mozambique has been extraordinary.
July 20th, 2022
Although we had to rise before the sun this morning, the group was cheery and bright as we
headed to the airport to go to Mozambique. With two flights and a short layover in Maputo with
lots to do (visa applications) the group absolutely led the way. May, our lovely “mom”, helped
gather all of the groups bags and keep everyone organized. The group stepped up in a big way
to make all of our travel a success. As always, the group turned this potentially boring travel
time into a hilarious and fun experience full of memories.
Upon arrival in Tofo Beach, we all feasted on barracuda nuggets and took in the bright blue
ocean and sky. We marveled at the beauty of this incredible place. We truly had the beach to
ourselves– a perfect place for us to laugh a lot and be extra silly. We quickly traded in our layers
and clothes from South Africa for swimsuits and the group ran straight into the ocean. The sky
turned to pinks and oranges as the sun began to set and we watched as the group jumped into
the white foam of the waves. These incredible sights made us realize immediately that our early
start and multiple flights were all worth it. There is no doubt that these next few days will be
July 21st, 2022
Our first full day in Mozambique was nothing short of amazing. We started this morning with
breakfast, sharing our crazy dreams from the night before (particularly Louise), and getting
excited for the day. Afterwards, we headed out into the boat for our first ocean safari, all hoping
to see some incredible ocean wildlife unlike anything we’d seen before. While we were
searching for mantas and whale sharks, we were greeted by humpback whales on all sides. An
especially memorable moment was when a whale surfaced only 25 feet from the boat– mouths
were wide open as we all stared in shock at this humongous ocean mammals.
After spending time searching for whale sharks and dolphins, Hamm decided to cool off by
doing a flip off the side of the inflatable boat. This encouraged many others to try out a flip too
and cool off in the ocean at the same time. Elle’s form was especially impressive!
After lunch and a few moments of rest, it was time to head to the Surf Shack! After meeting our
instructors and picking up our surfboards, it was time to put 3A’s surfing skills to the test. Louise
immediately passed this test, as she got up on her very first wave — she made it look like it was
the easiest thing in the world! We were also amazed by Eva’s surfing skills. Even as others
started to get worn out and turn in their surfboard for the afternoon, Eva did not ever slow down.
She stayed out in the water throughout the entirety of the lesson because she simply could not
The exhaustion of surfing called for surprise ice cream bars! We enjoyed these sweet treats as
we walked along the marsh, taking in another remarkable sunset. Once we arrived back at the
lodge, the card games began. Eva, Hamm, and Hammett jumped into a game of gin. Locke and
May played non-solitary Solitaire. The rest of the girls began a game of Uno, which quickly
became the most intense and competitive game of Uno ever played. As new, crazy rules were
introduced, the laughter and shouts filled the air around the picnic tables. Elle’s commentary
throughout Uno kept the entire group belly laughing and quoting her the rest of the night.
It was hard to get the group to go to bed tonight– we simply could not pry them away from each
other and these intense card games. Although they may be tired in the morning, we love the
way this group loves each other and time together. This group truly cannot get enough of each
July 22nd, 2022
We enjoyed another fabulous morning together looking out over the Indian Ocean and bright
blue sky. As we walked down the beach to head to our second ocean safari, we saw whales
jumping fully out of the water and slapping their massive fins against the water, creating huge
splashes. This was only the beginning of our sightings of majestic ocean creatures today! We
jumped into the boat and headed out for the ocean safari. After about 20 minutes, our skipper
shouted “whale shark!” The group immediately jumped up and dove right into the water to get a
closer look. Not only did we get to see this whale shark, which is an incredibly rare and special
sighting– but our group had THREE separate whale shark sightings. The odds of having these
kinds of sightings are slim to none– it felt like pure magic to experience this together. It was so
special to swim with May as she saw the whale shark, which is something she has been waiting
to do since she was five years old. She exploded with excitement as we got back on the boat
and remarked that she could not wait to share these stories and photos with her dad.
This afternoon we had an incredibly special experience. We got to spend our afternoon learning
about Tofo’s amazing people and culture with a local, Tony, and his family, who have lived in
Tofo for their entire lives. They graciously opened up their home to us and invited us to take part
in an unforgettable culinary class. We were given fresh coconuts as soon as we arrived,
enjoying the fresh coconut water to cool us all down. As soon as he finished his coconut, Locke
impressed us as he scaled one of the palm trees and knocked down another coconut for us to
Elsa jumped in immediately, taking every opportunity to help make the dishes we would be
eating. She practiced each step of the process to make Matapa– from shaving down the
coconut to creating peanut flour, Elsa’s excitement and enthusiasm to get involved was
amazing. Joanna, Tony’s mother, walked Elsa through each step, and helped her combine all
the ingredients into a pot in the family kitchen. We also enjoyed warm coconut cookies, fresh
crab, and rice. Our stomachs and hearts could not have been more full!
As we walked back to the lodge from Tony’s house, we took in yet another marvelous sunset.
While we took it all in, Hammett and Hamm found a coconut husk and started running routes
and tossing it like a football. Eventually, Tony joined in too. Hammett said throwing the coconut
felt like the most Mozambican thing he had done yet! Moments later, Hamm remarked it felt like
the most American thing he had done yet. We loved watching the two connect with locals under
the spectacular sunset.
To end the spectacular day, LODs Elle and Annabeth led an amazing and hilarious Moonup.
Afterwards, the laughter continued for hours as the Uno games became more and more intense
and hysterical. We listened to music under the palm trees and marveled at the stars and our
amazing view of the Milky Way.
July 23rd, 2022
It is hard to believe that today was our last full day in Mozambique. It was one of those days
where every moment was just perfect. We started our morning back at the Surf Shack. Eva
continued to be our surfing queen and quickly picked up the ability to read the waves and
paddle in on her own. Louise and May added tricks today, teaching themselves how to do 360
degree turns on the surfboard. Arguably the best moment was when we looked out to see twins
Hamm and Locke trying to catch a wave while on the same surfboard. Following surfing, we
explored the sand dunes at Tofo Beach’s Tofinho Point. We captured some incredible photos as
we looked down to see the entire length of the beach.
This evening we had an unforgettable sunset cruise through the mangroves and marshes of
Tofo’s sound. We headed out on the water on a traditional dhow boat, a wooden sailboat that
has been used by fisherman and traders for centuries. This sunset cruise was truly the perfect
way to wrap up and reflect on our time together in Mozambique. We listened to music, shared
silly stories from the last couple of days, and as always, laughed A LOT. We were all
mesmerized by the sunset as it painted the sky… our last sunset in this incredible country. In
addition to the sunset, Adriana also snapped some hilarious close-up photos, which made us all
begin to laugh. Adriana truly knows how to make anyone and everyone feel comfortable through
her humor and willingness to connect with people deeply.
As we jumped off the boat and took in the last glimpses of the sun, Hamm and Locke took a
“scenic tinkle” together– remarking it was the best tinkle of their life. As we drove back to the
lodge, we all belted out our favorite songs from the trip into the night. As we discussed later in
Moonup, this experience was one of those moments of pure happiness, joy, togetherness,
community, and closeness, all under another spectacular set of stars. Vivi shared that this ride
back was one of the most unforgettable moments of the trip for her. Sharing just about any
moment with Vivi is simply unforgettable— her friendship to each and every individual in the
group is unique, intentional, and filled with love.
After a delicious dinner together, we enjoyed a fabulous birthday cake for Annabeth. Although
her birthday is technically tomorrow, we simply could not wait to kick off the celebrations. Our
last Moonup in Mozambique was led by the amazing LODs Elsa and Hammett. The questions
and answers created some of the deepest and most reflective answers of the trip yet. We are so
thankful for Elsa’s intentionality to make this Moonup incredible and the rest of the group being
so willing to offer themselves.
July 24th, 2022
We started today extra early in order to catch the sunrise and celebrate a sweet 16 birthday for
an extra sweet person, our amazing Annabeth. The day was filled with surprises, which started
with a bunk filled with balloons and a happy birthday banner made out of notes from each
member of the group. We all headed down to the beach to see the amazing colors of the
sunrise, which we viewed through the lenses of our very fashionable happy birthday
sunglasses. We snuggled up together as the sun peeked over the ocean for the first time. It was
definitely a sunrise and a moment that we will never forget.
Afterwards, we headed to the local market to do a bit of shopping, which included coconuts,
bracelets, and some really fun matching hats. We had to say our last goodbyes to our amazing
host Brodie, her adorable dog Fenton, who had not left our side the entire trip, and the paradise
that has been our home for the last few days. It’s incredibly difficult to leave this place where so
many memories have been made. Our hearts are heavy with these tough goodbyes, but feeling
full and ready to soak up our last few days together back in South Africa.
Holding onto every last second with this amazing group that makes each place feel like home.
Feeling so grateful for each and every moment together.
With utmost gratitude,
Browning and Henry
On the topic of gratitude, here are notes from the rest of the group:
I want to thank all of the Moondance HQ and my leaders. They have been amazing role models
towards the group. I thank my parents for the opportunity to come on this marvelous experience.
I want to thank God for creating such breathtaking places with wonderful wildlife that the group
has gotten to take in the past 2 weeks. -Hamm
Thank you Moondance for the best two weeks of my life. Also thank you to my leaders for
making this experience beyond special for our whole group.
Thank you Moondance for all of your hard work that has made this trip possible for everyone.
This trip has been more than amazing and it couldn’t be without the help of our two amazing
I want to thank my amazing leaders for making the trip unforgettable and always making
everyone comfortable and happy. I also want to thank the friends I have made on this trip for
two weeks of unforgettable memories and laughter. -Elsa
Thank you to my parents for allowing me to go on this trip and making it possible. Eva
Thank you Moondance for the most amazing trip. It truly was the best experience and I am so
thankful for it. Thank you to my leaders for all they do and making this experience unforgettable.
I am forever grateful to my incredibly generous parents and family for allowing and encouraging
me to go on this trip. Thank you as well to the Moondance company for creating such a special
and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With gratitude, Vivi
Thank you so so much to my amazing parents who work so hard and do so much for not only
me but my brothers. You guys have taught me how to not be scare to try new things, be myself,
and to treat others kindly. Thank you for allowing me to take such incredible adventures with
such amazing people. Love you, Adriana
So much appreciation for this company and what it has to offer teenagers. Thank you
moondance for an amazing 2 weeks, I have met some amazing people and had many
unforgettable experiences. Thank you to my leaders for making me laugh and keeping us busy
all day long. A huge Thank you to my parents for making sacrifices to give me a chance to have
such an outstanding experience. – Locke
Thank you for giving me an amazing experience these past two weeks. It was some of the
coolest things I have ever done and would love to do it again. Thank you to my parents and my
leaders for making this trip the best it could be. Hammett
Thank you moondance for this unforgettable experience. These were some of the best two
weeks of my life and they wouldn’t be the same without my two amazing leaders. Also, thank
you to my parents for allowing me to come on this trip and for giving me so many amazing
July 22, 2022
Hello South Africa 3A friends and families,
WOW. The last few days have been absolutely JAM PACKED with fun, excitement, and new, unforgettable experiences. We could fill pages and pages with memories and stories from the last five days at Mabula Game Reserve. The landscape is absolutely magical; our skies are bright blue during the day and painted with fiery reds and oranges at sunrise and sunset. The beauty of the bush has created an incredible backdrop for this special group to grow closer and closer to one another. We have marveled at the stars, been awestruck by each and every animal, and laughed until our stomachs hurt. We are deeply cherishing each and every moment with 3A. Now, here is a peek into our journal—
July 15, 2022 (continued)
We have arrived at the amazing Mabula Game Reserve! Excitement was bubbling throughout the van throughout our drive from Rooiberg, knowing we would be heading out on our first safari so soon. Once we arrived, we sat down for an amazing lunch with some of the reserve’s head ecologists and got to know more about how some of South Africa’s most important and endangered animals are managed. Ecologists Donald and Brian shared insight into the Big Five, the work we would be doing during our time on the reserve, and stories from their own work. During the talk, we held some of the collars they use to track the cheetahs, rhinos, and elephants. Hamm and Louise impressed us with their strength, lifting the huge, heavy elephant collars over their heads. Hamm amazed us with his genuine curiosity, asking tons of insightful questions.
After filling both our bellies and minds, it was time to head out on our first evening game drive! We met our drivers, Ben and Musa, who would quickly become two very special members of our group. Not long after we started our drive, we pulled up to a pond and were greeted by a huge group of hippos! Annabeth absolutely lost her mind when she saw the hippos for the first time. When one of the hippos let out a huge yawn, she let out a gasp. Throughout the drive, Eva started capturing videos and photos of the zebras on her GoPro. Inspired by her dad’s travel videos, she is planning to create a compilation video of our trip.
When we arrived at camp at sunset, shouts of excitement filled the air. The group had found their tents, right in the middle of the stunning bush landscape! Staying at these tented camps in the middle of the bush is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Louise and Eva led us in a hilarious and very long Moonup. After a full day of both service and our first safari, we had lots to reflect on. The LODs asked the group to share what brings you joy and/or a time in their life that has been filled with joy. After Moonup, May and Locke (who have earned the nickname Mom and Dad) spent time admiring the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. We all fell asleep quickly, tired from our very full day and excited for all to come during our time at Mabula.
July 16, 2022
We started our morning early, with an incredibly exciting task at hand—to track some of the reserve’s cheetahs! LODs Elle and May used a telemetry device to track the cheetahs for the group. Tracking these beautiful animals is amazing by itself, but it was especially incredible to do so on foot, closely following the cheetah and her cubs as they moved through the bush. Louise was absolutely obsessed with this experience, and has talked about it all day!
As we continued to move through the bush, learn more about other animals, plants, and trees from our amazing guides Ben and Musa, we all laughed as Eva truly could not contain her excitement. She simply could not keep her butt on the seat, constantly leaning forward to get closer and closer to each leaf, tree, or animal. Her love of learning is so apparent and has made this experience so very special. We enjoyed lunch together at a picnic table right next to a pond, with hippos and crocodiles off in the distance. Henry shared a few riddles that stumped the group for the next two hours! Hammett was particularly invested in these riddles, absolutely determined to figure them out.
Between our game drives, we had a bit of time to rest and relax midday. We can always count on Annabeth to keep us laughing with her crazy stories and hysterical vocal impressions. The group’s favorite has to be her Gru impression from Despicable Me.
After lots of rest and laughing, we headed out for our evening game drive, this time to search for the lion pride! After tracking the lions, we eventually found the pride all sitting together under a few trees, with just enough room to join them in our safari vehicle! We all marveled at these humongous cats as the sun set behind them. We were all shocked when the alpha male lion of the pride let out a big yawn. The group gasped and made sure to take plenty of amazing photos.
After checking out our photos, and remarking on how incredible it was that we just saw lions, we returned to camp for another spectacular night under the stars. We enjoyed an amazing dinner, enjoying hearing each group member’s favorite parts of the day. It always blows us away just how many unbelievable moments and experiences are packed into just one day! Afterwards, we circled up for Moonup under the stars of the Milky Way, capping off an extraordinary day with reflection and of course, plenty more laughter.
July 17, 2022
Today, we all woke up excited for another action-packed day in the bush, this time focusing especially on learning about wildlife management and conservation. On our morning game drive, we met conservationists to learn about and see a ground hornbill, one of the most endangered birds in the world. After learning about everything Mabula’s Ground Hornbill Project does to protect these majestic birds, we were taken to meet one of them! This particular bird was separated from its group, and needed dietary supplements while it could not fend for itself. While our guide laid out feed, our incredibly curious group continued to ask amazing questions, taking in every opportunity to learn more.
In the afternoon, we headed out to learn more about managing the reserve by feeding buffalo and rhino! Along the way, we had more sightings of zebras, giraffes, rhinos— each time we saw these animals it was just as special as the first. Once we arrived at the field full of buffalo and rhino, we learned that the reserve provides supplementary feed during the winter, when naturally occurring food is scarce. Since the reserve was once a farm, many of its species of grass are not native to the natural habitat of these extraordinary megaherbivores. While the process of replacing these grasses with natural feed goes on, the reserve feeds the animals a few times a week, and our group was lucky enough to help out!
Before heading to the activity, the two of us tricked the kids into tasting the difference between black rhino and white rhino dung. When Eva found out that this was just a prank, she was genuinely disappointed she wasn’t getting the opportunity to eat the dung… remarking that it would have been the coolest story to take home. The group was eager to jump into the feeding vehicles to throw the hay over the side. Hammett helped gather data, taking count of the rhinos and buffalos. Feeding the animals was definitely a highlight of our time thus far in the bush.
Afterwards, we headed over to a different side of the reserve, the usual stomping grounds of the amazing elephant! When we arrived, we stood on the sides of the safari vehicles, getting our first looks at these magnificent and massive animals who were breaking branches and knocking over trees to feed on the bark! We all stood together, getting as high up as possible to see the elephants moving through the trees with their trunks in the air.
We then moved away from the incredible elephants to a more open area of the reserve for another unbelievable sunset. We parked the safari vehicles right under a massive Marula tree, which the group said looked like the massive tree from the movie Avatar. We took some stunning photos and soaked in the incredible sunset behind the Marula tree and the mountains in the distance. The kids remarked that their time in the bush had been absolutely amazing; “everyday we keep thinking that the stuff we do couldn’t get cooler, until it does again and again.”
Feeling full and happy from another incredible day, Annabeth and Locke led us in a hysterical Moonup. Their silly question asked the group to share which movie or tv show villain they would be and who they would choose to be their sidekick. It took us forever to get through this question because we simply couldn’t stop laughing. A day is never dull with 3A— each moment is filled with laughter, entertaining conversation, and joy.
July 18, 2022
Today we woke up for an experience none of us will EVER forget. We met up with the ecology team and the local veterinarian for a very special morning working hands on with a rhino! The reserve is constantly working to keep track of their rhino population, as rhinos populations are constantly battling the threat of poachers. The particular rhino we would work with was in need of a tracking collar and a few measures to prevent poaching.
Hammett, Eva, Elsa, and Elle were lucky enough to go on the vehicle with the veterinarian to watch the darting of the rhino. The rest of the group watched the rhino begin to feel the effects of the anesthesia from a distance. Once the rhino had its blindfold on and was fully sedated, we jumped out of the vehicles, eager to jump in and help. We were all absolutely amazed by how thick and tough the rhino skin felt. Vivi, who may be the next wildlife veternarian of the group, took advantage of every aspect of this experience. She helped the vet team take measurements, administer a vaccine, and even put a microchip in the horn (which helps prevent poaching). It was absolutely remarkable to see how invested she was in this experience; she even walked away with some rhino blood on her sweatpants, representative of her willingness to dive right in and get her hands dirty. The whole group remarked that being able to work near this rhino was one of the coolest experiences of their entire lives.
After all the excitement, hard work, and early start to the day, we spent the midday relaxing and reflecting on the morning. We played lots of card games, made friendship bracelets, and continued to soak in the South African sun. Our lunch and afternoon conversation was often interjected by comments such as “can you believe we touched a rhino today?”
We then headed back out on what we could not believe was our last evening game drive at Mabula. This drive was incredibly special. We drove allong the mountain ridge line, overlooking the plains on the reserve. The groups closeness was incredibly evident through the laughter and inside jokes shared on this drive. The vehicles met up to watch sunset on Christmas Hill, one of the (if not the best) lookout spots within Mabula. We watched as the sky melted into reds, oranges, and pinks and covered the sky.
After this unforgettable sunset, we split up into an all-girls and all-boys vehicle. The all-girls vehicle sang Taylor Swift at the top of their lungs, while the boys had some hilarious bro talk, that they been waiting for since the start of the trip. The girls all bundled up together on Adriana’s tortilla blanket. She is always so willing to share with the group and her selflessness has been key to our success. When we arrived back at camp, the singing did not stop, with the boys starting to get into the mix as well. The girls broke out into a flash mob two more times during both dinner and Moonup. On the topic of dinner, it was absolutely amazing; in fact, Hammett said that it was one of the best meals of his life. We enjoyed a traditional South African braai, including chicken, lamb, vegetables, soup, and pap (much like polenta)— which is all cooked over an open-fire. Hamm and Locke shared that this dinner was a “loosen your belt dinner.” It was a much needed hearty and delicious meal to cap off a incredibly busy day full of memories. To cap it off, we started our final Moonup in the bush. Elsa and Elle led us in a very reflective and deep Moonup, perfectly wrapping up our unforgettable day.
July 19, 2022
It was hard to wake up knowing that this was our last morning in the bush! Driving back to the main lodge, we took in all the views one last time. When we arrived, it was finally time to say some difficult goodbyes to our amazing drivers, Musa and Ben. We are filled with gratitude for the unforgettable days in the bush and for all the incredible people who have made this experience so magical. We grabbed some ice cream before getting back in the van to head back to Johannesburg! Time to prep for our travel to Mozambique tomorrow— cant wait to check back in tomorrow from the coast as we soak in the Mozambican sun!
With lots of love for this amazing group,
Browning and Henry
Here are shoutouts to family and friends from 3A!
Hey everyone. I am having a great time and experiencing so many things. It is very beautiful here. Tell Doodah I am alive. Love and miss all of y’all.
What up homies, it’s Hamm, as of right now I am typing to you because the Mozambique Army is recruiting young and strong men like me, unlike Locke because you know why (he’s happy ☺.) So, this will be the last letter you will get from me because I will die. Tell my peoples I fought a whale shark with my bare hand and ate rhino poop for survival. King, JH, Mic, Baker, Merca, BIG BOY DAVE, and of course T-Bird (sorry Jeen). . . Peace Out from Slatador. Mom, Dad, Grants and Pelz. . . love y’all. Sup KK. Thanks for reading, and you stay groovy Augusta, GA.
John Henry Hamm Howington
Hey y’all, I’m having a great time. Unfortunately, there is no Captain D’s in sight, and bofa my leaders are really goofy. I have also found a future husband to take over dad’s real-estate empire when its time, although he might die while fighting in the Mozambique army. TELL BOBERT I SAY HI? Love y’all
Annabeth Rainey Bell Howington
Dear diary, the muffins here are really interesting and lowkey stinky/sour. Shoutout to HPB <3 and I guess my family. I miss you all. I have seen a whale shark, cheetah, rhino, lion, zebra and so much more. Say hello to James Jeffery as well.
*screams* its Adriana your fav here to let you know yes, I am alive and doing great. I finally met my twin (a lion) and got to put a tracking device on a rhino!! And no mom I am not wearing sunscreen. ☺ give Bink a hug for me. Love y’all!! Tell Tate I said he’s special..
Salut la famille Thirion,
I haven’t got eaten by a lion yet. In addition I surfed a 40 foot tsunami in the Indian Ocean with a glass of gin.
Hello everyone! Mom and Dad, miss you guys so much and I hope Dad is feeling better now. Henry and Sydney, I can’t wait to see you two and tell you guys about the trip. Oscar and Leo, there lots of other dogs here, you would love them. To all my friends, miss you guys so much and I hope you aren’t having too much fun without me! Say hi to Brant for me!
Hi!! How was/is Napa? I miss you all but I love it here so much!! I got everyone here to start saying Binky for all the animals we see and it’s really funny. I love my leaders and my group so much and I can’t believe how fast this trip has gone by. All these weird southern people have got me saying y’all and ain’t. It’s like really embarrassing. Tell Lucy, Stella, and Hazel I say hi and give them a kiss for me. We swam with whale sharks today, it was insane! I miss you all but I could stay here forever. (Don’t say I told you so, but the “4-poster beds and cup of coffee every morning” claim was pretty accurate ☺)
Love you so much!!!!
Hello Jed and Jedster, WE HAVE traveled back in time to SAVE, this indigenous species of rhinoceros in these vast beautiful safari lands. SO FAR, We met a native tribe in the area and they worship a god like figure and describe it with the phrase SHA KA KA! They served us a traditional soup which they call New England Clam Chowder, it is smooth and has a WHITE color. My leaders Brownie and Pledge Master Henry are with me searching for Finkle on the coast of Mozambique as we speak. Duty Calls.
Ace, Pet Detective (Locke)
Hey!!! I miss y’all so much!! I’m having so much fun and I’ve seen so many cool things that I can’t wait to tell you all about. Y’all would be proud of me I’ve been trying so many new foods!! These Georgia fans are really getting on my nerves but it’s fine we’ll win next year.
Love Y’all, See you soon!!
July 17, 2022
Hello to all the lovely families and friends of South Africa 3A! Henry and Browning here and we are SO excited for the next 17 days with these amazing people!
To make sure we remember every detail of this trip, we have decided to write each day as a journal entry. Our days are so jam-packed with new memories and experiences we simply can’t stand to forget.
July 12, 2022
Today we were met with 10 new, bright, energetic smiling faces— despite the fact it was 10 pm and the group had been traveling for over 30 hours! It was clear from this first moment the group’s unwavering excitement and energy would make the next two weeks extraordinary. We enjoyed our first dinner and Moonup together, though we were still missing our sweet Eva, who is arriving tomorrow from France! We headed to bed excited for what the next few weeks will hold for this incredible group. We’re both sure the excitement and energy this group brought to the first day together will bring two unforgettable weeks of fun, adventure, exploration, and bonding.
July 13, 2022
With an early wakeup call this morning, it was time to head out and start our adventure in South Africa. To start, we needed to make sure our full group was all together. While the group made their way to Rooiberg, our home for the service section of the trip, Henry returned to O.R. Tambo International Airport to pick up Eva and make their way to Rooiberg separately. As Eva and Henry drove away from the airport, they watched as the city of Johannesburg faded into dark brown hills and vast bush plains. As they moved further from the city, giraffes, baboons, and monkeys began to appear on the side of the road! In the other van, Browning and the rest of the group took in the sights and discussed how excited they were to be finally united with Eva and form the full group for the first time. The group van had a few travel challenges that left them moving a bit slow, which allowed Henry and Eva to beat the rest of the group to Rooiberg. When the group pulled in, Henry and Eva were waiting at the front gate waving with big smiles on their faces. After very excited hellos and big hugs to Eva, we soaked in our new surroundings of Rooiberg, SA prepared to begin our service project at Rooiberg’s primary school.
We will spend our next three days renovating the main community space/assembly hall for the school. This project is a continuation of the summer long project that all six South Africa Moondance groups will have worked on. It is incredibly special to all be connected by this project. We can’t wait to send pictures to all the groups so they can all see the progress!
We quickly dropped our things to head over to the school and learn how we could help. Our group was tasked with adding the first coat of paint to the walls. Elle jumped right in, working incredibly hard and painting neatly and efficiently. Her hard work was critical to the success of the group as our travel delays constrained the time, we had to complete the first coat that afternoon. With Elle setting the pace with the paint roller, Hammett volunteered to climb the ladder and paint the higher reaches of the wall, while careful to avoid painting the ceiling as well. Meanwhile, the rest of the group focused on filling in gaps and harder to reach spots including corners, windows, and around the room’s blackboards. Since our group worked so hard and stayed so focused, we ended up having time to goof around. After completing a section of windows, we looked up and suddenly the whole group was covered in white paint handprints. We all laughed at Locke’s shorts, which now had two big while handprints over his back pockets! When we got back to the lodge for a snack and some rest after our hard work, we realized the boys had disappeared into their room. When Henry went to check on them, he opened the door to see Hammett, Locke, and Hamm all jammed into the small bathroom passing around a toilet bowl brush to clean the paint off themselves. We definitely have a feeling this will be one of the first of many times these three will have us all belly laughing.
As we prepared to wind down the day, we reflected on how the day’s hard work, focus, and fun had been influenced by our first LODs (Leaders of the Day), Vivi and Hamm. The two kept us organized and motivated at the school, while constantly starting conversation and keeping the group laughing. At the conclusion of an amazing first full day, the two LODs added depth to the day by leading us in a very special Moonup around the fire. We laughed at their Moonup opening and reflected deeply on their quotes and questions. For our first serious question, we all shared what brought us here. We headed to bed tonight feeling very full from the day and excited for a full day of service tomorrow!
July 14, 2022
Today is our full day of service! Our full day is massively important to make progress on our project, but that significance has grown further due to yesterday’s lost time to travel. Thankfully, our LODs Hammett and Adriana were ready to lead us through the day with intentionality and drive. They started the day with a great quote in morning huddle: “The way you walk into a room is the way you walk through life.” These wise words clearly affected the group; as soon as we passed through the doors of the primary school, we were focused on hard work, getting to know each other, and having a ton of fun. Elle and May amazed us with their painting skills— they were truly the iconic duo of the day. All in one day the two girls completed the final coat of paint in the classroom. (Elle and May potentially have new professions in painting). Hamm really impressed us as well, constantly seeking out ways to help and take on more work. Even as he finished a task, he would ask everyone how he could help. When he had exhausted all the work, he just kept on going, volunteering himself to simply tidy up the room. Hamm’s ability to take initiative so quickly was pivotal to our success.
After a few hours of concentration and hard work, we headed back to the lodge to take a quick lunch break. We were met with an amazing surprise— Vetkoek and mince, a traditional South African delicacy. It is basically a fried dough similar to a doughnut filled with mincemeat and it is delicious. Elsa particularly loved this treat, remarking “we HAVE to get this recipe!”
The groups energy and enthusiasm stayed high as we headed back to the school for the afternoon. Everyone jumped right back into their work. Annabeth was particularly important, helping rip up the last of the classroom’s worn out floor tiles. Meanwhile, Locke entertained us with his stories and his general hilarities, ensuring that our work never became monotonous. As we all know well, you are bound to start laughing if you are within earshot of Locke.
To end our amazing full day of work, we sat by the fire at the lodge, watching another amazing South African sunset and reflecting on the day. Hammett and Adriana pushed us to consider the depth and meaning of our work as well, leading a discussion at Moonup about service and how it impacts us. With such a significant day at hand, we were so impressed by our LODs. Not only did they push us to complete as much work as possible, but they helped the group embrace learning about the project and exploring the meaning of their work. After another busy day full of so much life, we walked back under the spectacular stars for some much-deserved rest.
July 15, 2022
After a great night of rest, we woke up ready to head to the primary school one last time and finish out our work in Rooiberg. Without a full day to complete our work, LODs Eva and Louise stepped up and led by example and helped us all finish out with the same vigor and positivity as day one. Everyone immediately jumped in to put the finishing touches on the room. Louise and Hammett re-assumed their positions on the ladders, reaching to paint the corner of the wall that meets the ceiling with care and attention to detail. After completing a second coat of paint and prepping the walls for a second coat, we took a few photos with our work and said our final goodbyes to this wonderful school and our community partners there.
Before leaving Rooiberg, we headed to the town’s market and community space, known as Marula Hub for a special treat. We were met with an incredible surprise that we will all remember for the rest of our lives. Students from the local school approached us to say hello and offer us a few traditional songs, which brought many of us to tears. Specifically, Elle and May said they would remember this moment for the rest of their lives. To top it all off, we enjoyed surprise waffles and ice cream to celebrate and commemorate all of our hard work and progress at the primary school. It was not an easy goodbye to this amazing community of Roooiberg, but we are incredibly excited for what the next days will hold. We are hopping into the van now to head to Mabula Game Reserve where we will spend the next couple of days soaking in the South African sunshine nestled in our tents in the bush!
After an amazing few days to start off the trip, we are feeling so very grateful and so very excited for all that is to come. Our days with 3A have been filled with so much joy and laughter. We are loving sharing this experience with this amazing group and watching friendships grow deeper and deeper. Thank you for sharing these special people with us— sending all our love!
With BIG love and BIG hugs,
Browning and Henry
July 13, 2022
Hello South Africa Families!
We heard from our leaders last night after receiving the final student that the group has landed safely in Johannesburg. 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!