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Yellowstone 1 • June 10-June 23, 2022

A Recap to Round Out The Trip!

June 23, 2022

Hello family and friends!


We write to you as the kiddos get on their way back to their hometowns to be reunited with family and friends. We want to recap the last few days that we spent together as a group, growing closer to one another and this beautiful place we had the privilege to call home for the past two weeks!


Day 9: First day of rock climbing with Exum Mountain Guides! We met our climbing guides and took a boat ride across beautiful Jenny Lake and started our climb up the rock slab. Our guides Joe and Wade taught us the basics of climbing and walking up steeper rock faces. Our LOD’s for the day were Davis and Anderson, and they kept the group going by providing positive energy and an optimistic attitude throughout the day. We learned so many new things and conquered some fears today, climbing together on a multi-pitch. Xavier and McClendon showed their awesome climbing skills and sped up the mountain. Caroline and Ruthie were very courageous in their climbing efforts and definitely conquered their fears today, becoming more comfortable with climbing as a whole. Our guides made sure to get us up the mountain safely, and we had a satisfying lunch with an amazing view. In the afternoon, we practiced our repelling skills which was so much fun for everyone. After making our way down the mountain and back across Jenny Lake, we ventured back to our campsite and began making our dinner of delicious chicken quesadillas which were a big hit! After dinner we hit the town again to go to the Jackson Hole Rodeo! Everyone loved it so much and everyone got a festive cowboy hat, so we all blended in perfectly well with the other cowboys and cowgirls. After the rodeo, we headed back to the campsite to have Moon Up and got to bed early in preparation for another day of climbing.


Day 10: Our 2nd day with Exum Mountain Guides proved to be even more fun than the first! Our LOD’s today were Walker and McClendon, and they did a great job of keeping everyone positive despite the weather not being so great. It was raining at the beginning of the morning, so while we waited for the rain to subside, the guides showed us a fun game where we have to untangle all the ropes that are attached to every person. Duke’s team won with the help of Xavier, McClendon, Ruthie, and Anderson. They also taught us some helpful knots like the bowline and the trucker’s hitch. The rain finally stopped, and we were able to make it across Jenny Lake and started hiking up the mountain. We ate lunch at a beautiful spot with an amazing view, and also enjoyed some Oreos before we started climbing again. Anderson and Claire loved the repelling, and we got some awesome shots of everyone as they repelled down the overhanging rock. We got some good climbing in as well. The day ended with a surprisingly sunny and nice weather turn out as we went back down the mountain and back across Jenny Lake. We said goodbye to our guides Joe, Clarke, Thomas, and Brian. We made our way back to the campsite and prepped for a yummy dinner of spaghetti! We ended the day with another Moon Up, getting to know each other a little better with some thought provoking questions.


Day 11: Our float fishing day with Jackson Hole Fly Fishing School! We split up into groups of 3 in drift boats and floated down the Snake River. Our LOD’s today were Ruthie and Wats, and they did great at motivating everyone and keeping the group “afloat”, get it? In total, 13 fish were caught by the group!! Duke and Claire each caught one, Davis caught 4, Anderson caught 5, and Ruthie caught 2! Even for those who didn’t catch fish, being on the river was still awesome and our guides Bennett, Brian, Jimmy, and Wyatt were awesome. They gave us a great sandwich lunch with chips, watermelon, strawberries, and even Oreos!! We finished up the float trip and headed back to the campsite for a little late afternoon nap and another great dinner of pad thai!! We concluded the day with an awesome Moon Up and we were eager to get in our sleeping bags after a long day of fishing.


Day 12: Today we had a leisurely morning at the campsite and enjoyed the sunshine while making some delicious pancakes! We hung out and played some group games and even did a leadership style exercise where everyone figured out what their style of leading is. We also learned about the 7 leadership skills and 4 leadership roles and how they can be impactful on group dynamics. After we cleaned up breakfast, we gathered our lunch food and gear and headed into Jackson for a day hike up Snow King Mountain! Our LOD’s today were Marina and Crawford, and they did an awesome job at keeping the group positive even though the hike was a little more difficult. Crawford led in the front and Marina in the back and kept everyone going! It was a very hot and sunny day, so we made sure to put on lots of sunscreen and made it up to the top of the mountain for a nice lunch with a beautiful view! We then went back down the mountain on the gondola which was super cool. After the hike, we made our way into Jackson to shop for some t-shirts and souvenirs to remember the trip. Marina, Ruthie, and Walker all got matching bison pants that were so cute! We also went into a thrift store where everyone bought silly clothes that we could wear on our banquet dinner on the last night of the trip. We stopped for some ice cream on the way back to the campsite, and even got to see a “shootout” performance in the Jackson Hole Square. It was so fun getting to wander around the town with everyone and we shared many laughs along the way. Once we made it back to the campsite, we had a cooking competition for dinner called Iron Chef, where two teams of 5 cooked their own dish and Duke and Claire were the judges. Team one was Crawford, Davis, Marina, Caroline, and Anderson, and they made a wonderful jambalaya pasta dish that was so delicious. Team two was Xavier, McClendon, Walker, Wats, and Ruthie, and they cheffed up a very creative nacho dish with their own homemade queso that was absolutely incredible. Team, one ended up taking the cake and won the competition, although both teams put in an amazing amount of effort and we were so happy with both dishes. We ended the night once again with a great Moon Up and got to bed early in preparation for our rafting the next day!


Day 13: Today we packed up our campsite outside of Jackson for the last time and headed into town to meet our rafting outfitter Dave Hansen to raft the Snake River! Our LOD’s today were Caroline and Davis, and they did an awesome job at keeping the group together and on schedule, as we had a very busy day ahead of us. We met at Dave Hansen bright and early and put on our wet suits before grabbing our paddles and getting on the rafting boats. The river was beautiful, and we were lucky to have such a sunny and nice day because the water sure was chilly! Our guides Leslie and Bryce were so great and made sure to get most of us into the water by the end of the trip. Walker, Duke, Wats, Crawford, Anderson, Xaiver, Walker, and Claire all took turns “riding the bull” or sitting on the front of the raft while going through the rapids and it was so much fun! After rafting we hit the road to get to our campsite outside of Salt Lake City. We had a great car ride full of great music and laughter, and at this point it was really sinking in that the trip was coming to a close. We then got to the restaurant for banquet dinner! Center Street Grill was our restaurant of choice in Logan, Utah, and it could not have been more perfect. Burgers and fries were shared all around and definitely lots of laughs as we ate in our funny outfits with our cowboy hats. After dinner, we got ice cream at Charlie’s ice cream and watched the sunset from the van as we drove to our next campsite. We settled in at our campsite and repacked and organized the duffles and the van in preparation for airport day. We slept under the stars as we reminisced on the past 14 days.


Day 14: Airport day! 🙁 We know the kids are so excited to be home and see families and friends, but we will miss them so much! These kids are just incredible, and Duke and I couldn’t imagine a different group of people for our first Yellowstone trip of the summer. We love them all dearly and hope the best for the rest of their summers and this school year. Thank y’all for raising such amazing kids!


Big love for Yellowstone 1, we love y’all!


Duke and Claire

The Adventure Continues!

June 18, 2022

Hello to our faithful followers!


Our adventure in Wyoming continues! After we arrived safely back in Jackson from Yellowstone, we realized we needed a hearty meal and Pica’s Mexican Taqueria was on the menu. After filling up on burritos, tacos, and quesadillas the gang strolled through Jackson Square. We decided to go for a much-needed ice cream stop following our evacuation. So, we stopped at the famous Jackson Drug and filled up. After, we made our way to the Central Wyoming Culinary Arts Auditorium for some bluegrass jams. Hot Tuna was on the stage for the night. They put on a great show full of laughs. After the show we headed back to camp and relaxed for the rest of the night.


We slept in the next morning and recover our legs from our days of hiking. Anderson, Wats, Crawford, and Walker played long intense games of spike ball while the rest of the group watched on. After the heat of the days subsided, we headed up the dirt road to the headwaters of the Gros Ventre River. After a quick lesson in tying on leaders, tippet, and flies the group fished dry flies on the clear water. Caroline caught an impressive stick and Xavier hooked into a nice rock while McClendon braved the cold waters to try and put his flies in front of some fish.  Our guides for the day (Duke and Claire) tried over and over to help everyone trick the fish but our luck ran short. Although the fishing was tough, we still had a blast. After we grew weary of catching nothing, we snacked riverside and watched a bald eagle and a red-tailed hawk try and fish. Even though these impressive fishermen have sharp vision, talons, and beaks even their best wasn’t enough. We headed back to camp collected our ingredients and cookware and headed to T.A. Barn, the most photographed barn in America. As we cooked tacos with the Grand Teton as a backdrop the group played football and sang songs. Davis spotted some prairie dogs and made sure to shoo them away from our dinner set up. We filled up on dinner and had a wonderful Moon Up as we watched the sunset behind the Teton Range. Ruthie and Marina came up with trail names for everyone and we shared laughs as we rode back to camp together. That night the stars were out and even the Milky Way was visible. Looking up gave everyone nice things to dream of that night.

We woke up in the morning ready to go! We had a big day on the river ahead. The agenda for the day was to have a casual float down the Snake River with Teton Scenic Floats. We ate a nice cheesy hash brown on english muffin breakfast before we drove to meet our raft guides. We boarded on a large raft boat and headed down the river. Along the way we spotted a number of bald eagles, marmots, ducks, pelicans, and even a beaver lodge. After a nice lunch break the group skipped rocks along the flats. We got back on the river and rode through the mellow rapids. The chilly snow melt waters felt nice on such a hot day. We got off the river and headed to Jackson. The girls got some cowboy hats and the boys got flannels as we geared up for the upcoming rodeo. Afterwards we headed back to camp made a fantastic pizza dinner and Moon Up under the clear starry skies and went to bed dreaming of climbing big mountains soon in our future.


Love from Jackson,


Yellowstone 1

Safe and Sound!

June 16, 2022

Hello friends and family,

Wow! What an adventure we have been on the past few days! Our backcountry travels began Sunday at the Soda Butte trailhead in Northeast Yellowstone. As we unpacked the van, put our packs, and started hiking, we were met with a bit of rain. We ate a wonderful wrap lunch and proceeded to cross, via a footbridge, the raging Lamar River. Our fearless LODs Xavier and Caroline took the front and back with Claire and Duke. Not even 30 minutes into our hike Walker turned to check our progress when he notices a dark figure walking about 400 yards behind us. It was a small grizzly bear! The group followed bear protocol to a T and soon enough Mr. Grizz was on his way and so were we. We soon ran into a herd of bison which were so cool. The newborn babies were so cute. We marched on to our campsite for the night where we set up on high ground above the river. Dinner was served and we hit the hay.

The next morning, we woke up ready to attack the day. Again, we were met with some rain but soon the sun was shining. We had a big day ahead, so we fueled up with a group favorite of cheesy grits and brown sugar oatmeal. Shortly after breakfast, McClendon found a really cool bison skull and a big set of elk antlers just near camp. We put our packs on and began the day’s hike. A few miles and shallow creek crossings later we found a large field with a nice pond, the perfect place for lunch! We enjoyed the sunshine as we devoured our tasty tortilla wraps. Crawford tossed a football with Duke. We continued, walking alongside Cache Creek. A few miles later Caroline and Marina spotted two Elk skulls each with a massive set of antlers on the side of the trail. After our picture and water break, we continued on. A few hours later we arrived at our 2nd camp where we planned to spend 2 nights. A pasta dinner and Moonup led by LODs Wats and Anderson must have been like a lullaby because we were asleep shortly after.

On our third day we slept in a bit and woke to a surprise and shock for most of us southerners, snow in June. There wasn’t much but still surprising. As it continued to lightly snow, we ate a wonderful pancake breakfast. Wats, boasting his pancake-making skills, helped out with cooking. This was a chill day with zero miles to be hiked. Since it was a bit chilly and still snowing, everyone packed into one tent and played cards. This is when Duke and Claire got the message from the Moondance office about the flooding in the park. Although we were all safe and at a high ground the park rangers wanted our group to evacuate the backcountry. Duke and Claire informed the group that instead of hiking zero miles we would have to pack up camp and hike eight miles back to the van. The group rallied, showing incredible tolerance for adversity, and within an hour camp was packed up. Davis and McClendon picked up the bear bags and brought them down, which lifted the spirits of the whole group. Our LODs Ruthie and Crawford stayed positive and kept the good energy going even through a tough situation. The whole group crushed the hike even through some hard snow. We saw more bison, spotted some antelope, and saw a large black bear in the distance. We did the eight miles in just over 4 hours – a record time! We got back to the van to a note letting us know the park was closed. We were one of two visiting groups in the most famous parks in the country!  We ran into a few roadblocks, some of which were bison and others were road-closed signs, of which we were on the closed side. We spoke with some rangers who let us know what had happened and directed us to a new and safe campground. The Incident Commanders of Yellowstone opened the campground for us, and we were the only ones there. Clean bathrooms and running water at last! We ate dinner, talked about our long day, and had a nice Moonup under a full moon. In the morning we woke up, ate breakfast, and got on our way. Each person that we saw or talked to mentioned to us that the park was closed but they were glad we were safe. We are now on the road back to Jackson and will update you again soon.

From the safety of the van,

Duke and Claire

Here’s some messages from the kiddos!!!

Hi Fam!! I am having a great time, but it is freezing! It is a lot of type two fun 🙂 Mom you would die out here, but I am loving every minute! Happy Father’s Day Dad! My card for you should be on my desk in my room. Are Cate and Scottie having a fun time? I am sure they are!! Can you send my letter to Alice? It is on the kitchen counter! Also please tell Caroline and Mikayla happy birthday and I hate to miss their party. Love and miss y’all!! – Walker

Hi mom, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ! Snow in June is a little much, but Yellowstone has been a ton of fun and Jackson Hole is incredible. The campers and leaders are great, and I’ve been having a great time.

PS: We made The NY Times.


Family, I am alive. Don’t be concerned about my large gas station orders, Wats always forgets money (send money). It’s freezing and this weather is crazy, but I am having a great time and loving every minute of this fun, exciting, and challenging past few days. Love y’all and Happy Father’s Day Dad!!!

-Your Son, Parker

Dear Leslie and Father Dorris, I am alive and doing okay. We were in the New York Times which is cool. When you pick me and Crawford up bring as much Chick-fil-A as you can. Love y’all. Happy Father’s Day pops.


Dear Fam jam! I survived a blizzard in June not sure how though…we made the news which is pretty cool – go check it out! We are now the only visitors in Yellowstone. I’m freezing my butt off but having so much fun with my group. Love y’all!! Tell the pets I love them too! Happy Father’s Day father!

– Caroline

MOM AND DAD!! I miss you guys so much. Having so much fun with snow in June and cannot wait for the rest of the trip. Although it was a little bit like survivor (jk) I have enjoyed every minute. Send money so I can buy a real cowboy hat. Love you guys so much ALSO IVE SEEN SO MANY BISON


Hey mom and dad! We survived the flood we didn’t know was happening. It did in fact snow. We made it on the news and New York Times so I’m pretty good. Also I did not try to pet the bison so we’re good. Miss and love y’all!

– Anderson

HI MOM AND DAD (and George and Townes)!!! It has been the most fun/exciting/crazy past few days. We also survived a historic flood and had to evacuate all while park rangers in helicopters looked for us. We had no idea though. Mom, don’t worry, I didn’t pet a bison but the babies WERE SOOOO CUTE. We also are in the New York Times. I’m having so much fun. And I miss Nashville food. I LOVE AND MISS YALL!

– Ruthie


Hey mom and dad I think I’m alive and well. Dad I would get you a gift for Father’s Day but I’m busy evacuating Yellowstone. Love you mom hope you’re doing well. See ya later!


Dear parents, I am doing well even with some obstacles along the way. Even though the weather was insane the first night of backpacking, it was still fun. Seeing all the bison and bears were cool. Hope you are also doing well!

Happy Father’s Day!


Greetings From The Beautiful Jackson, WY!

June 12, 2022

Hello family and friends from Jackson, WY!!

We write to you today as we travel through the Tetons and into Yellowstone National Park for our 6-day backpacking section! We are all very excited to experience the beauty of America’s first national park in such a special way, and all the kids are eager to learn many new backpacking skills.

Our group gathered together two days ago in the Salt Lake City airport, which already feels like forever ago! Davis was one of the first to arrive, so he and Duke practiced their hacky sack skills while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. Once everybody had landed and gotten their bags, we loaded up the U-Haul and hopped into the van to start our drive from Salt Lake City to Jackson, WY. Marina had some awesome song requests on the way there, which really pumped us up for the trip. It was a beautiful drive and breaths were definitely taken when we approached the magnificent and picturesque Teton mountain range.

Once we got to Jackson, we decided to pick up some pizza from Pinky G’s Pizzeria for an easy and comforting first meal together as a group. We found a place in the park in Jackson to eat and chat and get to know each other a little better. After dinner, we headed to our campsite which was set in a beautiful valley situated on a lake. After we set up tents and got organized, we had our first Moonup which was led by Duke and Claire! Moonup happens every night of the trip and it is a chance for the group to sit together and discuss the day and reflect on what all we have done. We shared our goals for the next two weeks and what we are most excited for on the trip. After a day of travel and getting to know each other, we headed to bed to rest up for the exciting days to come!

We started our next day bright and early as we headed into Jackson from the campsite to meet our guides from the Jackson Hole Fly Fishing School. Davis and Marina were chosen as our very first Leaders of the Day (LOD’s). Together they modeled the Moondance way by keeping the group focused on the day and living in the moment! Our guides took us out to their location on the Snake River where we were given an introductory lesson on fly fishing. Ruthie and Claire caught some frogs while we were on the river too! The guides were awesome and taught us so much about trout – we learned about their habits, what they eat, when they eat, and so much more. Then they gave us a very helpful casting lesson which allowed us to be more comfortable with fly fishing.

We ate some yummy sandwiches for lunch that were prepared by the guides and then headed out onto the water to practice our skills. McClendon and Duke were both able to catch some fish which was awesome! We will definitely use the fishing skills that we learned from the guides and take them into the backcountry so that hopefully we can catch some more fish while we’re out there!

After fly fishing, we returned to camp and and prepped for backpacking. The day was spent organizing all the food, group gear, and clothes that we will take into the backcountry with us. We also played a game of football down by the lake, which was awesome! Wats’ team won the game with the help of Ruthie, Crawford, Xavier, and Anderson! We then made some southwestern mac and cheese for dinner, which was a hit! Caroline and Walker helped with making dinner and getting everything organized.

Today we woke up and made some yummy breakfast burritos before hitting the road and heading to Yellowstone. Caroline and Xavier are the LOD’s for today so they will lead us along the trail towards our first campsite on our backpacking expedition.

We can’t wait to share all the memories and experiences that we will have in the backcountry. We will return in 5 days with more stories to share and an even deeper connection to each other and to this beautiful place we get to call home for 2 weeks.

Cheers until next time!
Duke, Claire, and the Yellowstone Squad


Safely in Salt Lake!

June 10, 2022

Hello Yellowstone Families!

The whole group arrived safely in Salt Lake City today and they are on their way to their first campsite. We have heard from our leaders this evening that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.

Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!

– Moondance HQ


  • Anderson
  • Caroline
  • Davis
  • Henry
  • Marina
  • McClendon
  • Parker
  • Ruthie
  • Walker
  • Xavier