June 20, 2023
After twelve amazing days together in Costa Rica and Belize, it’s time for our group to say our goodbyes and head home. After settling down for our first day of scuba not too long ago, the group took advantage of the lodging amenities and made their way into the pool. This turned into a spot that became a prominent hangout location throughout our time in Belize. With a big day of scuba diving ahead of us, the group feasted on cheese and pepperoni pizzas that brought comforting smiles to everyone’s faces. After finishing up the night with an awesome dinner and a few group games, everyone headed to bed with anticipation for the awesome week to come!
With an early wake-up call and some great eats for breakfast, the group got sun-screened up ready to attack the day. We headed to Splash Dive Center for a quick refresher and dive debriefing before heading to Inkys pool to complete the beginner’s scuba training. After wrapping up an amazing day of poolside training, relaxation, and games, the group headed to dinner at the Tipsy Tuna. Favorited by the locals, the Tipsy Tuna is a lively beachfront restaurant in Placencia village surrounded by local small businesses. Soon after dinner, our LODs, Margeaux, and Henry B lead us to the most delicious gelato spot, Tutti Frutti. The kids had a blast trying a new flavor for every stop at Tutti Frutti throughout the week. Henry B, obsessed with the chocolate chip, was adamant that he got Stracciatella in a waffle cone every time! The group also enjoyed their time playing with the local kids on the basketball courts and soccer fields right across from Tutti Frutti, and this became a nightly occurrence. Scotty and Shepard, a dynamic duo, made great connections with many of the kids and could not wait to return each night for another game of pick-up soccer.
Our next day was our first full day of scuba diving in the ocean. A beautiful hour-long boat ride landed us at Laughing Bird Caye, a Belizean Oceanic National Park. Megan and Adelaide kept the energy high as they sang their hearts out to Taylor Swift the whole way. When we arrived, we had a quick debrief from the park ranger and then we were off! We put our gear on and jumped straight into the clear ocean blues! Not only did we practice our newly mastered skills, but we also got to see some incredible marine life. From Nurse Sharks, Lemon Sharks, and Black Tip Sharks to Lobsters, Spotted Eagle Rays, and Sea Snakes; there was never a dull moment on a dive. In between dives, we enjoyed a delicious lunch on the beach that included chicken, fish, rice, and a crowd-favorite fruit punch. After a long day of diving, the kids managed to take some long naps on the boat ride home, no matter how choppy the water was. When we got back, the group was instructed on how to properly clean and dissemble their gear before we headed back to our hostel.
That afternoon, we ventured back to Inkys Resort to enjoy the pool and a delicious dinner. After dinner, there was an intense game of 18-hole mini-golf between Megan and Scotty. In the end, Megan came out victorious in the final stretch of the game. Margeaux and Katherine may have not been too into mini golf, but they sure kept everyone laughing as they took pictures with the wooded animal sculptures located on every hole of the course. We ended the night by having a hilarious dance competition with the kids, splitting up into four groups. Katherine, Henry B, and Megan earned the honor of winning the first annual Royal Rat Dance Off!
The next few days of scuba went by in the blink of an eye! On our final day in Belize, the group boarded the GoSea Catamaran and sailed to Moho Caye. On the way there, Emma and Bebe took advantage of the beautiful UV rays and sprawled out on the nets of the boat! Henry F became the group’s captain of the vessel as he took in the views from a cozy beanbag located on the bow of the boat. As we approached the island, the crew anchored down, and the group swam to the beautiful white sand shore. The kids took an adventurous route into the water, jumping off the top of the boat. As she jumped into the crystal-clear waters, Adelaide was radiating happiness, taking in all the memories of our last day. Our time on Moho Caye consisted of two very intense games of beach volleyball, swimming with a very friendly stingray, and a beautiful beachfront barbecue. Our time on the island went by fast, but we enjoyed the amazing ride back as the whole group sipped on pineapple coconut juice while laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
When we got to the mainland, we explored more local shops as the kids shopped around for souvenirs to commemorate the trip. We ventured back to our favorite spot, the Tipsy Tuna, for our final banquet meal! Megan was especially excited to get the shrimp tacos she had been waiting for all week! After dinner, we obviously had to hit up our favorite ice cream shop, Tutti Frutti, and devour one last sweet treat! The group took in every last bite of ice cream before having to say their goodbyes to the local kids that they created amazing connections with over our time in Belize.
After our goodbyes, the group headed home to pack up for the travel day ahead. While pulling into our hostel, Holmes let out the most amazing impression of the RoYAL RaT, a joke that always had the group cackling with laughter. Holmes continued to give the gift of joy and laughter to everyone he met throughout the entire trip! One very special final Moonup took place in the pool where the group reflected on our time well spent together making memories that will last a lifetime.
As we head to the airport, Liam and I are in awe of the twelve unbelievably amazing kids we have had the pleasure of getting to know and love over the past two weeks. Every day was spent learning from their kindness, compassion, and strength which reminds us of the power of living every moment to the fullest.
It’s not a goodbye, just a see you later!
Ava & Liam
June 15, 2023
After a long day of travel we have arrived in Placencia, Belize. The past two days spent on the Pacuare river have been full of nothing but adventure and excitement. We started off our rafting journey with a forty-five minute white water rafting session to the Rios Rafting Eco Lodge, located on the river bank of the Pacuare. With some of the most beautiful rapids in Costa Rica, the river offers a deeper look into the country’s luscious ecosystems. Holmes was the first of the group to spot a camouflaged iguana basking in the sun! During our rafting session, our river guides taught the students how to practice the recovery position in the event of slipping overboard. Scotty, eager to jump into the refreshing water, jumped off and quickly got himself back into the raft like a champ!
After arriving at the lodge, the group settled in for an afternoon of rest and relaxation. The day was full of card games, SORRY, Connect 4, and good old exploration. The highlight of the afternoon was the time spent in the lodge’s natural freshwater pools! Megan couldn’t have been more excited to hit the pools and helped encourage the rest of girls to give the platform jump a try. Her encouragement and positivity is not a rare occurrence as Megan is always quick to give it her all! As the group enjoyed the pool, Bebe and Margeaux enjoyed natural clay face painting by our river guides. These clay facial paintings are of great significance to the native community in Pacuare and allowed the students to get a glimpse of the cultural immersion in the area.
Following an amazing time poolside, the group chilled out to their favorite tunes while swinging in the hammocks to the breeze of the riverbank. During this time, Henry B tried his first pineapple coconut smoothie which will for sure not be his last! As the sun set, the group enjoyed a delicious dinner of fresh fish, mashed potatoes, and veggies followed by a local favorite, chocolate chip rice pudding. With full bellies and happy faces we continued the night with an entertaining game of Mafia before heading to bed.
Clear minds and anticipation for the day ahead was evident as the group fueled up on breakfast, prepping for the category IV rapids to come. We loaded into the rafts and set off on our riverside adventure! Although the rapids could be intimidating at times, Katherine stepped up to the plate and conquered her fears by paddling like her life depended on it. Halfway through the three hour rafting session, the outfitters set up a tasty waterfront lunch of fresh sandwiches, wraps, fruit, and cookies! During the break we ate lunch and watched as the sky broke out into a summer shower. Shepard, hungry after a tiring session of rafting, downed three sandwiches to prepare for the rest of the afternoon! Although the weather continued to pour down on us, the group was all smiles to load up and get back on the water. After finishing up paddling down the river for the day, we had a quick shower and headed back to San Jose for our last night in Costa Rica.
On our way back, we stopped for ice cream to celebrate the week we have had! The group has continued to show not only their maturity, but pure joy as they were pushed out of their comfort zones in Costa Rica. Margot was especially excited to get her favorite flavor, Cookies n Cream, enjoying every bite with a huge grin on her face. A positively radiant attitude that has been common throughout the whole trip! When we arrived at the Adventure Inn, we said bye to our amazing bus driver, Edgar, who transported us during our time in Costa Rica. The kids all took a special liking to Edgar, who would continuously join in on our sing-a-longs and dance parties on the bus.
After a long day of rafting and driving, the group feasted on a delicious pizza dinner where Adelaide was ecstatic to eat her favorite, Hawaiian pizza. The group finished off dinner with a special cake to celebrate and commemorate our last night in Costa Rica. During Moonup that night, Emma kept the whole group giggling as we reminisced on our favorite moments from the week! With a super early wake-up for airport day the next morning, the group headed to bed dreaming about what was to come.
As our alarms went off in the wee hours of the morning, Henry F was up and helping others get packed up and ready for our flights. He has continually led by example throughout the trip and has always helped the group stay focused while having fun! The group really showed off their maturity in how they handled not one, not two, but THREE security check lines, THREE customs lines, two flights, and a three hour bus ride to arrive at our destination in Belize.
Once we got settled, we were finally able to have some much needed relaxation by the pool and have a delicious pizza dinner. It’s a beautiful night, so the kids are sleeping in their hammocks by the pool and we all cannot wait for scuba diving tomorrow.
We are so excited for our time in Belize!
Ava and Liam
June 12, 2023
Hello Belize and Costa Rica Families!
We began the third day of our adventure with an early wake up and walk to meet our surfing instructors at La Playa Uvita! Despite the early morning, the group was excited and energized by the beautiful beach. With smiles ear to ear, Margeaux and Henry B were the first students to stand up on their boards! Despite facing the challenges of the strong current, Henry F continued to push through until he caught a great wave that made all the extra hard work totally worth it! At the end of surfing we headed back to the hostel, packed our things, and enjoyed a quick breakfast before loading into the bus for San Isidro!
On the bus ride to San Isidro we enjoyed the beautiful views while listening to some of the groups favorite tunes and spectacular sing-alongs. For lunch, we stopped at Bazooka’s, a must stop spot for locals and tourists. Here we enjoyed delicious food and frozen drinks. Adelaide was thrilled to see the frozen treats available on the menu and was very pleased with her fresh strawberry smoothie, enjoying every last sip! Departing from Bazooka’s we met our transfers and headed for El Brujo, a Costa Rican rain forest oasis. On the one hour drive into El Brujo, the kids packed into the back of blue and green Land Cruisers. Although we ran into a bit of an afternoon shower on the drive, Holmes couldn’t help but cracking up in laughter as the water leaked in through the doors. This was a moment the group continued to giggle about during our time in Buenaventura. As we approached our final destination in the clouds, there wasn’t a moment where Henry F wasn’t wearing a smile from ear to ear. Although the ride was bumpy, it was a memory full of beauty and joy.
We arrived at El Brujo and were greeted by Harlow, our guide during our time in Costa Rica, and the owner of Buenaventura. In order to reach the property, the group crossed a bridge that stretched far and wide over the rapids. Here, Margot showed off her bravery as she took her first steps over the rushing water, each step with more excitement than the one before. From there we split into teams mixing the fertilizer and planting the seeds to harvest Cacao. The group was even able to taste the fruit that encases cacao seeds! Emma absolutely loved trying a new fruit and continued to go back for seconds! After rinsing off in a refreshing cold shower, we headed to Harlow’s house to cook Pupusas, a delicacy of his home land, El Salvador. Scotty was a great sous chef as he filled his cornmeal dough with handfuls of fresh monterey jack cheese, making a triple cheese Pupusas. The Pupusas were a crowd favorite and were served with unbelievably tasty veggies, beans, and rice!
The next morning we started the day early with breakfast, followed by a forty-five minute hike to the local village. Upon arrival we enjoyed snacks of fresh fruit, cookies, and juice to fuel up for the afternoon activities ahead. After our snack, we proceeded to paint the exterior of the local church, as well as clearing the soccer fields for students in the area. Of course we had to finish up the day’s hard work with an intense round of soccer! Bebe was an absolute baller and was a serious competitor in the game. While returning to El Brujo, we wandered across a natural spring and couldn’t help but jump in to escape the Costa Rican heat! Megan was especially excited and immediately submerged herself in the ice cold waters. Our day in El Brujo was more than we could ever have asked for. The kids had a blast immersing themselves into the environment as they learned new skills from the culture around us. We finished our last night in Buenaventura with a chocolate making class taught by our fearless leader Harlow. During the class, Shepard was quick to help the group crack open all the extra cacao seeds laying around. Shepard is always quick to offer a helping hand and assist those around him!
We woke up the next morning full of anticipation for the Blue Clay Avatar Waterfall adventure! In order to reach the waterfall, the group hiked another 45 minutes up the mountainside. While the hike was steep, and at times very challenging, the morale of the group remained high. The waterfall was a great way to cool off and relax as the kids played in the water and covered themselves head-to-toe in the magical blue clay. Katherine presented herself as the artist of the group as she painted fun designs on herself and those around her! The day created memories that will for sure last a lifetime.
As we finish our time in Buenaventura we are excited for what is to come! With rafting and scuba diving ahead of us, we have so much to look forward to.
Ava and Liam
Henry- Happy Father’s Day dad, I love you thank you for being the best father
Bebe- Hi mom and dad I miss you guys and I love you guys also dad, happy fathers day also thanks for the hoist packets! I’m so excited to see you guys soon I love you guys!
Shepard- Happy fathers day dad, I love you so much and can’t wait to get back and come see you. I love you so much!
Holmes-Hey! How’s Franklin doing? Happy Father’s Day dad! Doing well here as I hope you are too. Bye!
Scotty-hey. Happy Father’s Day dad . How is the family doing . How is brogdon. See you soon!
Emma- Hey guys!! I miss you all so much but am having so much fun! Also happy Father’s Day dad! I love you all and see you soon!
Adelaide- Hi Mom and dad! Happy Father’s Day dad! I hope you wear your nippers shirt. I am having so much fun and have made so many friends!! I am so grateful and love you so much!
Katherine- Hiiii guyssss! I’m having SO much fun. Costa Rica is absolutely beautiful and we are about to leave for Belize. I love my group so much. Happy Fathers Day dad, I love you to the moon and back and thank you for all that you do for us. Love you, See you soon!!
Megan- Hi mom and dad, I love you guys so much and miss you so much! Dad I hope you have such a good birthday and Father’s Day. Costa Rica is super fun and my group is actually so much fun! I love you both so much and cant wait to seen you soon!
Henry F.- Hi! I miss y’all so much. Happy Father’s Day dad. Tell Roux and Winnie that I say hi! Love y’all! See you soon!
Margeaux- Hey everyone! I love y’all so much and hear and see things that make me miss y’all more and more. Happy Father’s Day dad I didn’t get to respond to ur text but it meant a lot. I hope Anna and Sullivan survive without me and everyone is doing well.
Margot- Hi mom, dad, and Marianne! I’m having so much fun at camp! Costa Rica is beautiful and my Spanish has been getting better and soon we will be going to Belize! Happy Father’s Day dad! I love all of you and God bless all of you! See you soon!
June 11, 2023
Hola! We had a great first few days in Costa Rica and are currently spending the day surfing in Uvita.
Our trip began in Malinche Cafe located in the SJO airport. Holmes, the first to arrive on our trip, put his excitement to the table in a fast and fun card game of Speed. After everyone arrived, we packed, got on the bus, and headed to our first stop, the Adventure Inn.
Despite having a small thunderstorm roll in as we arrived to the hotel, the kids took it as a chance to settle in and get to know each other!
At our first Moonup that night, we discussed expectations, good behavior, and the structure of leadership, specifically Leaders of the Day (LODS). Our first two LODs, Margeaux V. and Holmes were selected for their outgoing and positive attitudes that radiated into the rest of the group.
Ziplining was the first activity and was an absolute blast for the group! Henry B led the pack by being the first member of the group to soar through the treetops. Being up in the trees was an experience like no other. Out of 10 separate courses, zip-line 6 allowed for students to take on an upside down Spider-Man pose, starting with Emma! Katherine had a contagious smile as she whizzed over the trees, that encouraged all students to give it a shot.
After ziplining, we traveled to our first surf lesson in Uvita where the kids quickly showed off their newly discovered surfing tricks! On the ride to Uvita, Shepard led the bus in song while listening to his favorite music. Adelaide also helped keep the energy up by singing her heart out to Taylor Swift and Party in the USA. After the beach lesson, Megan and Scotty were some of the first to successfully put their skills to the test and stand up on their board in some waves!
Henry F has been continually calming the nerves of the group when discussing scuba diving as he has shown off the knowledge he has learned (and remembered) from the online course. Margot C. has been so enthusiastic to answer all the questions during Moonup and helped us have a great Moonup full of giggles and serious moments. Bebe has been so intentional and engaging in her storytelling, and has been asking excellent and thought provoking questions to everyone.
We are so excited to travel to Buenaventura for our cultural immersion section. The kids are so excited to learn from the community of El Brujo and cannot wait for our next adventure!
Until next time!
Ava and Liam
June 9, 2023
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Costa Rica! 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!