July 22, 2023
A final hello to all,
The last night of our trip was more than we could have ever hoped for! After rafting, we drove to our hotel for the night but surprised the students with a special pit shop on the way: Walmart! Each of the students scurried in groups down the aisles searching for silly outfits to wear to our final banquet dinner. We told them they had 10 minutes, but after 30 minutes the students (and leaders) were still searching for the best outfits possible, hysterically laughing at everyone’s purchasing decisions. One of the Costa Rican policemen at the store got a kick out of seeing Luke trying on a children’s shirt that had no chance of fitting. Everyone made it back to the car and immediately threw on their unique outfits. All of the ladies bought little girl dress-up dresses and stuffed animals. Spencer had to force Anna, Raines, and Emma out of the Walmart after they were taking ages to decide on what kind of animal they wanted. They capped off the outfit by braiding two pigtails in each of their hair. Frances and Julia were laughing hysterically at how outrageous everyone looked. Emma got an elephant stuffed animal and just walked through airport security holding it! With Caroline wearing a nightgown and princess crown that matched the girls outfits, they all called her mom and got in some of their last hugs of the trip. Tommy and Luke wore girl’s pajamas that were a bit too small and were more like crop tops on them. Spencer also hopped on the pajama train wearing a Superhero children’s shirt that also did not fit. Julian rocked some cheetah pajama pants and a sparkly shirt, leaving the group finding sparkles all over their clothes and bags this morning! Canon repped his hometown by wearing a London crop top, and Grady had fun strutting around in his new white tank top and pajama pants.
We enjoyed our delicious banquet dinner still rocking our silly outfits. The employees working there definitely had a good story to tell their families when they got home. After devouring our dinner, we had one last surprise for the kids. A big ole Cake. We pretended it was a birthday cake and wished everyone a happy birthday!
As the night grew closer, we all piled into one hotel room and snuggled up in a circle for our final Moonup. This one was extra special and a little longer than normal Moonups. Our LOD’s, Meredith and Grady, had the great idea of doing an individualized nug jug for each member of the group. For about 15 minutes, we went around in a circle and gave “nugs” to each student from throughout the trip. From jokes, to personality, to random acts of kindness, the students praised each other for things all throughout the trip. This was a cool way to see how close the group has gotten and was comforting that when we said it was time to move onto the next person, the students didn’t want to stop complimenting the one before. The final Moonup question was “What is something Moondance has taught you that you would like to take home?” Raines, similar to most kid’s answers, was the ability to ‘live in the moment’ and truly never take time together for granted. I encourage all you parents to ask your kids this question and see what they say. Some of them might surprise you. Even as adults, we can all get stuck in routines and forget about the small things in life. We can forget about how simple it is to have a great day. We hope all of your kids are able to take some part of Moondance home with them.
They say the people make the place and I think that is something that will stick with this group for a long time. Being in cool places like Belize and Costa Rica this session definitely bonded the students, but as leaders, we are confident that the friendships in this group will transcend any amount of distance between them as they venture back home. When we think about this group, we are reminded of the many laughs, cries, smiles, and hugs that made our session so very special. From the Royal Rat hammock talks, to the “nice dinner” at El Tecal, to the dance party at the Rio Eco Lodge, this group experienced every emotion under the sun over the past two weeks alongside their newest 10 best friends. As leaders, it was a beautiful thing to watch.
So as our last students board their flights and each of them head back to their normal lives, we want to thank the parents for sharing your kids with us for this unforgettable experience. And to the students, we learned even more from y’all than you learned from us. Thank you for making each day an adventure and for simply making each of our lives better. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for each of you!
For one last time,
Spencer, Caroline, and William
July 22, 2023
Hi friends and family!
Our final days in Costa Rica have been a blast and we are so grateful for all the memories. We can’t believe how quickly these past two weeks have gone by, but we can certainly say we’ve had a ton of fun!
After leaving Buenaventura, we headed back down the mountain in the 4x4s and took in all of the views for one last time. Meredith, Frances, Julia, and Anna genuinely couldn’t believe their eyes looking out the back of the truck at the picturesque Costa Rican mountains. Tommy joined the girls in the back, but instead enjoyed a nap on top of everyone’s duffel bags.
Our drive to Turrialba was a long one, but the students filled their time with plenty of laughs, music, and stories. We even stopped at the highest point on the Central American highway. Once we arrived at our bed and breakfast, Tommy and Emma as LOD’s created an elaborate nug jug story that involved Emma forgetting a book and Tommy running to grab it. Tommy ended up falling and “hurting” his arm, only to say he had fallen on the nug jug.
We woke up the next morning pumped for our first day of white water rafting! This activity is one of the leaders’ favorites and they couldn’t wait for the students to experience it. After about 20 minutes of chill music on the bus ride to the raft site, the students were caught off guard when we started playing the 1996 Bulls Theme Song. It was time to announce the rafting teams!!! We split up the students into three rafts, with one leader in each raft. Each leader played a pump-up song to get their team excited for the day ahead. Spencer’s team, named “Harlow Hotties,” consisted of Luke, Raines, Canon, and Frances. The “Grotion Goblins,” led by William, were small yet mighty, having the least amount of people in their boat. Grady, Julia, and Meredith pulled through for the team. Last but not least, Caroline’s team welcomed Emma, Anna, Tommy, and Julian. Anna came up with the name “The Royal Rafters.”
The first day of rafting was quite an adventure for The Royal Rafters. With our raft filling up with more water than it should, we had to paddle a little more and work a little harder. But that was no problem for our unit of a team. Emma and Tommy held down the bow of the boat, always leading the “uno, dos” chants to keep our paddling in sync. Julian was a solid paddler and exactly the person we needed in the middle of the boat. Caroline and Anna took care of the last row, laughing uncontrollably at everyone in the front getting thrown around by the waves.
Harlow’s Hotties had an amazing start! Attempting to be better than every other group, we made a chant that definitely intimidated the other groups despite them making fun of it. Canon and Luke were at the front, leading the group and setting the tempo. Francis and Raines both complimented the guys perfectly. Francis kept Canon in line making sure he was paddling while Raines was more so petting the water than paddling. We loved that Raines was relaxing so we were more than happy to paddle harder for her. Canon’s highlight of the day was being able to jump off the moving raft onto a hanging vine. Luke also had an amazing time at the front, turning around with an ear to ear smile every time he got splashed.
The Grotion Goblins got off to a wonderful start with Grady and Meredith leading the way in the front, while Julia and William held down the back. They may have been the last boat but easily had the most fun from jumping off the rocks to listening to William sing “A whole new world”. The group morale was high and everyone had a blast. Meredith kept aweing at the views while Grady paddled his heart out. Julia may not have been the best paddler but definitely was the funniest storyteller. Day one was a smashing success and day two was even better.
We had a relaxing afternoon filled with a crazy amount of card games, specifically Egyptian Rat Slap. We held a mini-tournament, with Spencer, Caroline, Canon, and Tommy in the final round. Spencer and Canon slapped back in a few times, but the real competition was between Tommy and Caroline. With the number of cards each of them had in their deck constantly going back and forth, in the end, Caroline’s cards dwindled and Tommy took home the ERS Championship trophy. We also introduced the students to a new game where one student would leave the group and the others would decide on something that person would have to do. When the student got closer to the task they were supposed to do, the rest of the group would clap. Anna hugged Tommy, Meredith braided Caroline’s hair, Grady proposed to William, and Frances jumped up and down like a frog.
After the many games, we went to a swimming hole where the students got to hang out in floats under a small waterfall. The boys picked back up their favorite game when they were close to a body of water: throwing small rocks at a big rock. The girls had fun taking pictures together with some of them already tearing up thinking about the departure day that was not too far ahead. I don’t know if you could say the boys had fun taking pictures but they did have fun goofing around in the water with Spencer sniping a great action shot of Grady and Julian. Spencer kept telling the boys to get together and when they would wine, he kept telling them how much their Mom’s will appreciate a nice picture of them where they’re actually smiling :). We are so excited for y’all to see everything!
To fulfill Frances two week long request, we surprised the students with a dance party prior to Moonup. Caroline grabbed her headlamp to make a strobe light and the students jumped around and sang to some of their favorite songs.
As we’ve approached the end of the trip, our Moonups have gotten more and more special. The LOD’s, Canon and Raines, asked some great questions, starting out with the moment that made us laugh the most on this trip. It is so apparent how much this group has soaked up this experience. Compared to other groups, this group got very close very fast, allowing for true strong connections to form. A lot of ‘funny moments’ didn’t stem from a certain event, like someone falling or a specific activity. Most of the funny moments came simply from conversations and spending time with each other. There are so many inside jokes to go through and just so many great memories that we all loved rummaging back through.
Day two of rafting was a blast because we got to raft 14 miles!!! The Royal Rafters got their raft fixed and were ready for another adventure. The waves were pretty crazy and had all of us moving around like jello. Every time we finished a rapid, Tommy was at an all time high, always screaming “light work” and keeping the team energized. In a Class 4 rapid, our raft hit a big wave sideways, throwing Anna, Emma, and Caroline all out of the raft! We all got back in safely and had a great big laugh afterward. Julian enjoyed the rafting but looked most content when floating down the river in a cavern, between two walls of a beautiful Costa Rican jungle.
Spencer’s raft had a great second day as well with most of their time spent making jokes and screaming at other boats. Spencer forced Luke, Raines, Francis, and Canon to all scream as loud as they could even on the little, tiny rapids. We discussed which animal everyone would be if they were one. Luke and Canon’s favorite part of the day was when we got to jump off some rocks into a pool near a waterfall. The group also got to swim in the river. There is one part where the river goes through a tight cavern and the group got to do flips off the raft. Right when the instructor gave the ‘okay’ Spencer was quick to push Raines right off. Spencer also pushed Luke off but Luke hopped back on and was eventually able to tackle Spencer in the water.
Day two the Grotion Goblins got out to a head start and led the pack until they got stuck on a rock. After getting unstuck they got stuck again approximately 8 seconds later another rock. They all ran around the boat getting to spots where they could help push or float until they finally got off all the rocks. Even though there were only 4 of them on the boat they kept up with the crowd and never fell behind. Floating down the river and telling stories kept the energy high until the end when they finally docked. Overall, the Grotion Goblins had lots of fun and lots of laughs throughout rafting.
We ended rafting, gave each other our final ‘post activity’ high fives, and hopped onto a bus. The group joked and laughed all the way until San Jose where we prepared for final Moonup.
We are so sad to see this adventure come to an end and we are just so blessed that we have been able to share two weeks with this amazing group of kids!
Spencer, Caroline, and William
July 20, 2023
We have been having so much fun exploring the picturesque beaches and lush jungles of Costa Rica. We have so many memories we would love to share with you.
The first day in Costa Rica was definitely something the group had to earn. The group flew into Guatemala from Belize and had a long, long layover. We told the kids there was a ‘little time’ between flights. It was actually a 9 hour wait. The group was quick to accept the delay and got right into making the most of it. Anna actually said she was “so excited to hang out” and talk. The group occupied their time by playing games of Mafia, where people would randomly fall down and act dead, and any other games they could think of. Julia was a huge fan of the long layover, earning the title of “Guatemala Girly” simply because of how much she loved the day off in the airport. Anna, Meredith, and Frances used the time to dive into their summer reading books diligently annotating and highlighting away. The boys sprawled out across everyone’s duffle bags to catch a snooze before a busy week in Costa Rica!
We don’t know what it is, but similar to a dog that just got out of the bath, the airport gives teenagers the ‘zoomies’. The airport was easily one of the kids highlights of the trip just because of their giggliness. The girls especially were completely off the walls. Raines, Julia, Francis, Emma, Anna, and Meredith were all performing cheer routines and crying laughing when someone messed up, or on the other hand, went so hard that they started improvising dance moves. The boys for once were somewhat docile and we’re just enjoying their reminder of home with their taste of McDonalds. Tommy basically inhaled his quarter pounder in one breath. Luke and Grady had some fun working off their McDonalds calories in the Airport jungle gym that was luckily right next to our gate. Julian finally got some time to read his book he had been eager to read.
After an all-around entertaining plane ride we arrived in Costa Rica at 11pm. Raines was barely able to breathe due to her laughter after not being able to compose herself on the plane. Raines was crying laughing half of the plane ride, whether it was due to Luke making her laugh or simply smiling at the random lady sitting next to her. We love surprising this group because they always think they have everything figured out. We told the group that they had a 3 hour bus ride to a high school where we would be sleeping AC-less in tents on a football field. As the group settled down and got ready to take a nap, we arrived at our hotel that was only 15 minutes away from the airport. Filled with confusion, we told the group that we were sleeping in a nice hotel where they could sleep in cold rooms and use ‘real towels’.
The relaxing airport day got all of us ready for our first activity in Costa Rica: zip lining! We got geared up in our harnesses with everyone looking pretty silly in their helmets. We journeyed through the Costa Rican jungle across 10 zip line cables, each of them giving us a unique and beautiful view. With Caroline at the front and William bringing up the rear of the group, we had some funny, but different experiences with the students. Luke was second in line behind Caroline and would say “hello sir” in a silly voice every time he landed on a platform. Cable 6 was the fan favorite when we all got to go upside down on the zip line, showing off our best Spider-Man pose. Tommy stayed upside down the entire cable, and Emma’s joy while Spider-Man posing was contagious. Nearing the end of zip lining, we switched up spots, with Grady next to Caroline now. Caroline got a kick out of seeing Grady griddy off of the zip line platform.
After our memorable zip line experience, we hopped back in our van and ventured to Uvita for our first day of surfing! Julian was most excited for surfing and proved it by being the first one out on the water. Meredith said she “wasn’t bad” at surfing, but being from Virginia Beach we knew she would be a natural. We were right! She caught every wave she tried to and would even stand up without using her hands! Grady was killing it on the waves too, sprucing things up by jumping and turning on his surfboard while riding a wave! Raines had some trouble getting up at first, but as soon as she got up once she was on a roll, never missing another wave. Julia had us all laughing with her technique of standing up, riding the wave, and then just sitting back down on the board. Once we wrapped up surfing and we were about to walk off the beach, we noticed that the sunset was just about to get good. We decided to stay, thinking we’d head back to dinner in just a few minutes. However, in a matter of thirty seconds we found ourselves sprinting back into the ocean to go for a nice sunset swim. And to put it lightly, it was magical. The yellows, pinks, and oranges of the sky reflecting off the water and onto the smiling faces of each student was beautiful. The boys enjoyed tackling each other in the waves, with Spencer body slamming Tommy and Luke and Grady grabbing William. When Caroline looked around after Frances and Emma jumped on her back, she saw Meredith staring at the sky in complete awe. The girls kept saying how happy they were in that moment. Anna describe the moment that we were in the water as “probably the coolest moment of her life” which a lot of the students echoed. We ended our night with a “nice” dinner where we told the students to put on the nicest items they brought. We got a wide assortment of clothes, from collared shirts to fun pants and everything in between, we got a kick out of seeing what the students could craft together. The girls all swapped their Free People and Lululemon outfits, wishing they could bring home each others clothes.
We started our next morning early with a 7 am surf. By now we were all pros and catching waves left and right. “Battle waves” were a big part of surfing day two. Battle waves happen when multiple students ride the same wave and see who can ride it the longest, with students sometimes having to bail off their board and leaving a true winner. So while the boys did battle waves, trying to force each other off, the girls did “friendship waves,” just enjoying each other’s company all riding the waves together. Anna and Caroline did plenty of friendship waves together on day two. Spencer, Tommy, Luke, and Canon used their time wisely with the big Costa Rican waves. The four of them spent 95% of their time on the second day out passed the first and second wave breaks, all the way out with the larger waves. All of them loved battling hard through the breaks to get out to the true, intense ‘mavericks’. Luke and Spencer, on their first wave of the day, could be heard screaming after realizing the wave they were trying to catch was going to roll them like crazy. Which it did. Tommy’s signature scream could also be heard periodically throughout the session. On the other hand, Canon was a silent killer, riding almost every wave he attempted to catch. The leaders decided to leave the camera at the shore and truly let the kids live in the moments and not worry about videos or pictures. Their only assignment was to go out, have fun, and play in the waves.
The second half of the day was our big transfer to Buenaventura. Buenaventura is the name of a small farm in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle near the village of El Brujo. In order to reach the farm, the group moved their bags from our large, 22 person bus, into three 4x4s. All of the kids were able to enjoy the views of the Costa Rican mountain range as we drove on top of the ridges and through the cool and refreshing clouds. Raines, Emma, Canon, and Luke had a competition telling Spencer about their worst injuries and any gruesome story about their friends they could think of. It was awesome. About halfway to the farm, the rain began and what started off as a nice drizzle, turned into a torrential downpour. Everyone was embracing the rain until the road we were driving on to get to our destination was wiped out by a creek turned raging river. The group had to wait for the rain to die down in order to cross. Tommy, Luke, and Canon helped the locals move rocks in order to form a path for a cattle truck. The river ended up not dying down so the group had to cross on foot and hike the rest of the way. The group actually ended up on the Costa Rican news! We will link the Facebook article to yall! The usual hike once at Buenaventura consists of a swinging bridge crossing and a quick walk up to the house. With the excess amount of rain, the group had to make a detour and hike through the dense forest on a makeshift trail through the neighboring property. With the rain still pouring down, and everyone’s muscles getting a little tired, the group continued to push on and take each obstacle as it came. At one point Julia stepped in mud and her shoe was sucked off her foot and she had to hop on one foot with her big Patagonia bag. William also strayed behind at one part only to find out he had fallen over with the group bag and wasn’t able to get up. Emma and Raines were a little slower through the trails, purely because it was steep and slippery, but their determination and attitude got them through it. All soaked, all tired, and all ready to sit down, we finally reached our destination. We huddled up, put our hands in, and Spencer broke us down saying “You all wanted an adventure, right? Well you got it!”
The leaders were so impressed with the overall attitude of the group during this experience. The students’ ability to adapt and overcome the situation was inspiring. Their encouragement and teamwork was a perfect representation of the positive group dynamic that the students have created. We had a relaxing rest of the night with a cooking class led by the owner of Buenaventura, Harlow, making a classic El Salvadoran dish called pupusa. The students flattened dough, filled it with cheese, then boiled them for a delicious dinner with rice and bread. Anna and Canon make up a pupusa handshake that Caroline captured on the camera. That night, our LOD’s, Grady and Julia, got deep at Moonup, asking the question, “tell us about a friend that you’ve drifted away from.” The students were vulnerable in all the stories the shared, allowing for a deeper connection amongst the group.
The next morning we woke up ready to begin the service portion of our trip! We hiked 45 minutes to a village called El Brujo where the students helped the community in many ways! Half of the group started by cleaning the church. Grady, Emma, Meredith, Tommy, and Raines all helped sweep the church floors and wipe down the pews for the community members to enjoy church service in a homey environment. The other half of the group carried rocks up a hill from the river to be used for the bathroom sewage system that all of the BCR Moondance groups are helping to build. Tommy was up there for MVP in rock carrying skills. The groups switched and were given an opportunity to do the other project. After a snack break, the students headed back to the field for a soccer game with some of the community children. It was the Monkeys vs. the Pit Vipers, and let’s just say the Monkeys were the dominant team. Thanks to Anna and Canon, the Monkeys wine 5-1 with Anna, the soccer star, scoring four of the five goals! Julia had some good touches on the ball as well, one of them leading to a goal, assisted by Anna of course. Tommy was the cherry picker of the Pit Vipers, always ready to score but never quite pulling through for the team. The friendly competition allowed the students to meet some of the El Brujo children (and also get crossed up on the field by the them). After our morning in El Brujo, we walked back to Buenaventura where we relaxed and played games in the afternoon before our next service activity. Spencer taught Tommy and Grady how to play our favorite card game, Egyptian Rat Slap, which started a chain reaction of all the students starting their own game with smaller groups. There was slaps on the table every 5 seconds, with laughter and yelling mixed in. Tommy got super into the game, always claiming that he slapped first when it clearly wasn’t him. At the other end of the table, Meredith, Frances, and Julia all had a journal/summer reading party to pass the time. After a bit of downtime, we started the second half of community service where the students got to plant cacao trees! Each year, Moondance plants cacao trees to be taken by next year’s group to community members who plant the trees as part of a deforestation project. Anna was a dirt sifter, Tommy and Luke shoveled, Emma cracked open the cacao plants, and Raines and Frances help fill the planters. Everyone worked together to make a difference!
We ended the night with some delicious pasta that reminded us of home and introduced the students to another one of our favorite games, Three On A Couch. This game consists of three participants who are all given the prompt of a story that is true for one of the three. One person must tell the truth and the other two must lie, then the rest of the group has to vote on who they think is telling the truth. Our group wasn’t the best at lying, with each round ending in the actual truth teller getting the most votes. But we heard some pretty crazy stories from accidentally almost killing cousins to heads cracking open at Staples. Our favorite might have been a story of someone flipping their grandmas golf cart into another car.
We woke up ecstatic for the “Avatar Adventure Tour” the next morning. We hiked up a steep mountain about 30 minutes to a beautiful waterfall in the Costa Rican jungle. The students got to paint themselves in blue clay that was harvested from further up the mountain and add designs with orange clay to transform themselves into avatars. Luke and Tommy lathered the clay in their hair and made some iconic mohawks. The girls had the idea of painting a letter of the word “MOONDANCE” on each person’s stomach so we took them up on that idea and the picture is awesome!!!
We are looking forward to our last few days in Costa Rica and can’t wait to share more memories with y’all!
Spencer, Caroline, and William
July 16, 2023
Hi friends and family!
Our first week in Belize was nothing short of incredible! Four back to back days of scuba diving along with boat rides, hammock chats, and games on the beach has made the start of this last session very memorable. Thanks for sharing your awesome children with us…we love them all already!
As soon as the students arrived on airport day we knew we were in for a treat. The students were quick to introduce themselves and get right into conversation with each other. Compared to the other groups we have had, this group seemed especially comfortable together. In the restaurant, we set the tone of the trip by asking kids “what condiment would they squirt out of their belly button if they could?” Julia was quick to answer with mayonnaise and Tommy snapped back with Zaxby’s sauce. This started a wild debate on the best fast foods and everyones favorite meals. With some delayed flights, the group of students joined Caroline and Spencer at a restaurant near the airport for an afternoon grub as we waited for the last students to trickle in. We passed the time playing some of our favorite games like birdie on a perch, cheers to the governor, and never have I ever. The group were quick to chirp each other during ‘cheers to the governor’ with Anna and Grady being the source of laughter being two of the ones who kept messing up and making the group start over. When Canon and Emma arrived at the restaurant, the rest of the group greeted them with a human tunnel as they got off the bus. It might have been a little awkward, however, everyone shared a few laughs. We all hopped back in the van and began our three hour drive to Placencia.
The van ride was like any typical first day. Boys in the front, girls in the back. The boys passed time by debating sports and talking about their favorite songs/rappers. The girls also chatted about their favorite artists, along with playing a fun, new game called Wavelength, introduced to us by Emma. The boys stole the game as well and had an awesome time arguing why Tommy rated a Hershey’s bar as a 9/10 candy bar (the group did not agree). Due to the late departure time, the group was not able to stop at a gas station so when it came time for a bathroom break, the whole group broke the ice quick with a nice side of the road pee break. The girls really got a kick out of it.
We arrived at The Royal Rat around 11pm. This hostel quickly started to feel like home over the next five days. The students set up their enos, grabbed a bite of pizza, and all closed their eyes in hopes of a good nights sleep before our first day of scuba. The group’s outdoor hammock session was interrupted by a random downpour of rain, forcing everyone to sleep inside. Luke was one of the only ones to stick it out and stay outside.
With the weather putting a minor change in our plans for our first day of scuba diving, we went to a nearby resort where the students completed their confined water dives in a swimming pool. The group performed really well during their skills tests and were able to have free time in between were they showed off their best ‘ick jumps’. An ick jump is where someone jumps into the water but has to look as awkward and cringy as possible. Emma was hands down the star of the ‘ick’ jumps while Francis was riding her own wave doing karate jumps.
We returned to the Royal Rat and filled our afternoon with some swimming, some darts, and more group bonding! For dinner we went to the beach where we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Tipsy Tuna. Some of the students went off the menu and, to our surprise, the waitress brought out mock tails to Canon, Luke, Anna, and Francis. Although we thought they heard us say not to order any, we were happy that they got to enjoy a tasty treat :). While waiting for their food, the students went on the beach and played games with some local children. Anna and Canon showed off their soccer skills, not going easy on any of the kids. Julian and Grady played football and ran routes against each other and some more of the locals. Raines, Meredith, Julia, and Emma spent a few minutes playing sports and spent the rest of the time chatting on the sidelines and talking to some other local kids.
On Day Two of scuba we ventured to Laughing Bird Caye where the students got to go on their first dive, about 40 ft deep! We saw lots of colorful coral, cool fish, and got to breathe underwater!! Canon was extremely fascinated by the underwater world, always diving a little deeper to inspect each and every fish and piece of coral. Watching Anna scuba diving was the most fun, as she swam every which way trying to see all she could. She was definitely trying get the most out of the experience. The next day of scuba was similar to the last due to rough weather again. The group still got to go on dives, but now up to 50 ft. It was a little more intense this time with the waves on the surface being a little larger. The more intense the more fun right? One of the best parts about scuba was the lunch break in between the dives. The group ate at picnic tables on the small island of Laughing Bird, surrounded by clear blue water, wading boats, and palm trees swaying in the wind. Anna stated that the lunch at Splash, our outfitter, was some of the best food she’s ever had. She looked forward to it every day.
We enjoyed a chill afternoon at The Royal Rat after a fun, yet exhausting day of scuba diving. Naps were taken and snacks were eaten before we all ate some delicious Mexican takeout. Our wonderful Leaders of the Day (LOD’s), Anna and Grady, facilitated Moonup, asking the question, “What person has impacted your life the most?” The group felt comfortable opening up during the question, and it was refreshing to hear all the people in the students’ lives that play an important role. Hearing Tommy and Luke say they were each other most impactful person was really sweet.
In order to reward a hard day of scuba diving and wrap up a great night, the hostel owners prepared a pool/movie night for the kids. We set up a large projector that the kids could see from the pool as well as the hammock set up. We decided on watching the classic rom-com ‘Just Go With It’. The group spent more time chatting in the pool and by the hammocks than actually watching the movie. Julian, Julia, Raines, Anna, and Meredith had a long chat in the deep end while roars of laughter could be heard from Tommy and Luke at any slight comment Adam Sandler made.
With the weather not being on our side the past few days for scuba diving, the group knew they needed to do something about it. Spencer created the “weather song” where each student chose a type of weather that they did not want to see tomorrow during scuba. It ranged from clouds to rain to muggy water and everything in between. The students got into it and were so invested the next morning to see if the weather song worked!
When Spencer woke up on Day Four of scuba, he was ecstatic to see a text from our outfitter saying we were going to a different (and better) dive location: South Water Caye! THE WEATHER SONG WORKED!!!! The students couldn’t wait to see some new sea creatures and try out a new place for our last day of scuba diving. The group collectively agreed that this first dive was the coolest thing they have ever done. Even Spencer, Caroline, and William agreed it was the best dive of the entire summer! The group saw about 6 nurse sharks, a sea turtle, and 5 spotted eagle rays, one of them coming within 12 feet of them!!! Canon was absolutely obsessed with the nurse sharks. Big shoutout to Meredith for being a little nervous and overcoming her fear and having ‘the best day of the trip yet’. As soon as we reached the surface after that dive, there was immediate chatter amongst the group and faces in complete awe. Julia had the biggest smile on her face and Julian kept saying how incredible that dive was. We couldn’t ask for a more perfect way to end the scuba diving section of our trip!!
We woke up for our last full day in Belize ready to make the most of it! The leaders told the students to prepare for the hardest day of the trip, as they were about to sea kayak 20 miles today. We explained to them the importance of team work and pushing through the pain, as well as picking each other up. 20 miles in a kayak is not easy to say the least. Once we arrived on the dock where there were no kayaks in sight, we announced the ultimate surprise: a catamaran sailing trip to one of Belize’s most beautiful islands! The group rejoiced, with Raines and Francis both admitting to giving themselves pep talks before the day started to prepare for the ‘grueling’ trip. The girls soaked up a lot of sun on the front of the boat all enjoying some Cokes, Dr. Pepper’s, and virgin piña coladas. The boys also enjoyed some drinks while chatting with the leaders and putting in some song requests. The group enjoyed the “Zach Bryan” request from Tommy. Once we arrived on the island, we played some football in the water and took some pictures before all participating in a big game of volleyball. Despite being the final pick of the draft, Meredith showed out for “The Royal Sirs” with many clutch hits for her team. Julia claimed she was going to be bad at volleyball, yet managed to have a killer serve and score several points! However, “The Ducklings” dominated the game with Tommy and Anna both earning MVP. Emma and Frances showed up when they needed to, but were more crucial in facilitating the group cheers whenever a point was scored. After the game, we fueled back up with a delicious beach barbecue. Tommy and Luke somehow managed to get barbecue sauce on their foreheads and eyelashes, but I guess that means they enjoyed it, right? We wrapped up our time in the island how we started it: more football and more pictures. Spencer tried to facilitate a big group tower in the water. We managed to get the tower three stories high with 8 people included but we tumbled down hard into the Central American water eager to try again when we get to Costa Rica. We returned to the catamaran for a relaxing ride back, with a group of students playing the game “President” with the leaders. Raines was a pro, as she had already played the game before, but Grady came out of nowhere for the win!
Once we arrived back at the dock, Placencia was busier than usual because of this weekend’s “Lobster Fest!” We got to explore the pop up shops along the water filled with t-shirts, jewelry, and beautiful artwork.
The group was split up after the boat excelsior due to a few of the guys wanting to get mullets. The boys waiting for an hour outside the Belizean barber shop to get cut by who Canon claimed to be the best barber he’s been to. The boys were adamant about getting the classic American cut, with Spencer even joining in. Luke, Canon, and Tommy all look amazing and I guarantee you will love their new dews. We ended the night with a great dinner at a rooftop restaurant and with an awesome Moonup where we shared our favorite memories from the first country on our list.
Can’t wait to update you guys on our adventures in Costa Rica!
Anna- ” Hey Fam! I hope everything is good at home! I am having the best time and I’m so so grateful for y’all. Thank you for giving me this experience it’s been absolutely amazing! I love y’all soooo much and miss y’all! Xoxo
Frances- “Hey fam, love y’all so so much!! I can’t wait to see y’all and I’m having the best time ever. We went on a catamaran yesterday!! Thank you. xoxo”
Meredith- ” Hola La Familia!!!! I am having actually so much fun here. The views and memories have been amazing and I am so so thankful for this amazing opportunity and I love my group so much. I hope y’all are having fun at home and tell leah and strat I miss them and love them!!!! Love you infinity and sweet dreams or no dreams!!!!!! – mere bear
Raines- “Hey mom, dad, carter, and evie!! I’m having so much fun and I miss y’all so much! Thank y’all so much for giving me the opportunity to go on moondance and I’m so grateful for everything y’all do for me. I hope evie is having so much fun in Austria and I can’t wait to see y’all when I get home! See y’all soon!
Julia- “Hi mom and dad!! Love and miss y’all! So thankful for everything y’all do for me!!Having so much fun and love my group!!!!💖”
Emma- ” Happy birthday dad and George !! I miss y’all so much! I am having so much fun! I have met so many amazing people! Cant wait to tell y’all all about it! Also tell Ren I said happy birthday! Also don’t forget to feed my fish! Love y’all !!”
Julian- “Hi Mom and Dad, I love both of you but still don’t miss you because of the fun. I’m really enjoying myself again this year, thank you for giving me this experience.”
Grady- “Hi Mom and Dad! I miss you and I’m having a lot of fun!”
Canon- “Hi mom and dad! Thanks for sending me to Moondance!! It has been amazing and I have so many stories to tell you! Tell Hayes I say hi!”
Tommy- “Hello Mom and Dad! I miss y’all! I’m having the best time of my life!!! I can’t wait to see y’all when I get home.”
Luke- “Hey mom and dad! I’m having a blast away traveling and meeting new people. I miss y’all so much and tell the family I say hi.”
July 10, 2023
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Belize! 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!