June 25, 2023
Now your kids are safely home and we hope they are sharing stories about the amazing times we have. We wanted to reminisce on our last few days together.
We started our Saturday morning with a sleep in and a delicious breakfast of Chilaquiles, whipped up by Michael S. We loaded up the van and got ready for our drive to Idaho. Bonner, Avery and Lila are quick to request their favorite songs while the rest of the crew fell sound asleep. We stopped for a surprise lunch at Chickfila which Max and Michael D. we’re ecstatic about. After lunch we continued our drive and made it to our campsite for the night. We enjoyed a dinner of banana pancakes and breakfast sausage that the team all thoroughly enjoyed. Caroline, Avery, Bonner, Kayes, Lila and Delaney all sat together after dinner for lovely conversation, while Trent, Silas, Cooper, Max, Michael D. and Ryan all played cards in their tent. We went to bed nice and early for our early wake up the following day.
Our Sunday morning wake-up call was rainy and windy, so we packed up camp and headed to meet our raft guides at Salmon raft. Once we arrived, we put all our belongings in dry bags, and we were ready for a quick safety briefing. Next, it was time to load the boats and get on the river. The girls hopped in our guide Jonah’s boat, and the boys piled into Kert’s boat. Kayes, Avery and Bonner were quick to take the lead on the girls boats entertainment, singing songs and telling plenty of stories. At one point. Lila made Caroline laugh so hard she nearly peed her pants. At the front of the girls boat, Delaney got pretty drenched in some of the class four rapids. We stopped for a lunch of sandwiches, chips and cookies, graciously prepared for us by our guides. We hung around the beach for a while before loading back in the boat for some more rapids. Soon enough we made it to our campsite for the evening. We unloaded the boats and set up our tents, and Michel D. and Max were quick to start a game of football. The girls and Cooper joined in, and we picked our teams. It was Lila, Bonner, Caroline and Cooper, versus Michael D., Avery, Kayes, and Delaney with Michael S. as all time quarterback. Avery and Cooper were our top scorers, while Michael D. Bonner and Lila were our top defenders. After playing a few rounds, the boys were tuckered out, but the girls were eager for more. Michael S. and Caroline led the crew in a game of three flags up. Avery was, again, the one to beat, while all girls were too busy making sure Michael S. didn’t catch the ball. We had tired ourselves out and piled into our tents for a quick nap before it was time for dinner. We ate chicken, rice, veggies and salad while sitting around a beautiful fire and getting to know our raft guides. We enjoyed a delicious dessert of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and began our evenings Moonup led by Cooper and Avery. Many of us stayed by the fire for some continued conversation, then went to sleep.
Monday morning started off cloudy, so our coffee, tea and hot cocoa for breakfast kept us nice and warm. Breakfast this morning was breakfast burritos and cantaloupe, the perfect fuel before heading back on the river. Today’s weather was not on our side, but that did not change the energy coming from the girls boat. Our guide, Kert, had a speaker and played 2000s hits the whole day. Bonner and Lila knew almost every song, and Avery was hyping everyone up as they sang. There was a string of class three and class four rapids that had our adrenaline going as the girls kept dancing to their music. During a slower section of the river, Delaney impressed us with a backflip off of the boat! We made our way downstream and ate some lunch, and Michael S. led the girls in some trivia while they ate. Back on the river, the sun was fighting to come out, but the energy did not fade. Caroline continued the trivia in the girls boat, Kayes knowing almost every question, and Michael S. did the same with the boys in their boat. We arrived at camp, and the sun had finally come out, so we all found our own comfort in the sun. The girls were finishing their book, the boys took naps and played cards, while Caroline and Michael S. read on the beach. Dinner was ready, so we all gathered by the beach to eat together. Dessert was brownie cake, followed by another Moonup by the fire, this time joined by our lovely raft guides. We piled in our tents with warm bellies excited for our next day of rafting.
Tuesday morning was not just any morning. It was Bonner’s 15th birthday! We got to sleep in a bit, before we woke Bonner up to some of her favorite music, including “Fifteen” by Taylor Swift (of course). Breakfast was pancakes, bacon and eggs, Bonners pancakes having special designs on them. Music continued to play throughout breakfast, then we cleaned up and got ready to load boats. Sun and blue skies were today’s forecast, lifting our spirits high after a few days of rain. There weren’t any huge rapids today, so we all had a relaxing time on the water, playing music and telling stories. The guides provided an exquisite Mexican dinner for us all accompanied by a delicious peach cobbler. Our group belted happy birthday to the newest member of the 15 club and we gathered on the beach for our final Moonup of the rafting trip, where we shared our highlights of the trip and a checkup on our goals we had set at the start of the trip.
The next morning’s rafting section brought us through Green Canyon, a pristine stretch of rapids enveloped by gorgeous rock walls on either side. Silas was nearly washed overboard in the whitewater but made a quick recovery with the help of Lila and Michael S. This final thrill would be our last on the Salmon River, as our takeout point lay just beyond the end of the canyon. On land, the gang moved all of their equipment from their dry bags back into their duffel bags, said our goodbyes to our fantastic guides, and headed eastward. Along the drive back through Idaho, we had some incredible mountain landscapes keep us company, and we frequently encountered historical markers from the Oregon Trail. After a long time in the car, we made camp for the night to get a good night’s sleep before our final day.
Thursday’s wake up call was quite early so that we could have some final activities in Grand Teton National Park. Our early departure was graced with a beautiful sunrise over the Idaho plains. Most passengers slept in the van all the way to our campsite, where we set up camp and quickly departed to Phelps Lake to jump off a cliff at the feet of the snow-capped Tetons. Our three mile hike there was pretty straightforward, made even nicer by the most brilliant weather we had the entire trip. Ryan was the first and most frequent to leap into the chilly depths, but every student made the polar plunge. We also had our final team lunch upon the rock, soaking in the sunshine and the fresh mountain air for the last few hours. Our hike out was a different route, which was a stunning ascent through gorgeous purple and gold flowers, into Death Canyon, and through the valley to the parking lot. We then cleaned up before heading into town for our banquet dinner, where we enjoyed some Mexican food – muy delicioso! Returning to camp, we had our final Moonup with our “mud and clouds” ritual and a round of cheers with Dr. Pepper to end an amazing trip. Goodbyes lasted from this moment until the tears flowed at the Jackson airport the next morning, when we sent the kids off to continue their everyday adventures back home.
Thank you all for sharing your wonderful kids! We loved getting to know them and hopefully plant the seeds of adventure and growth that will continue to bloom at home. Have a great summer and stay wild!
June 16, 2023
Hello Big Wild Families!
We just completed our backpacking section of the trip and we had an amazing few days. We kicked off our first day of backpacking with some oatmeal for breakfast, and a few lessons on how to pack a backpack, and we hopped in the van to the trailhead. We ate lunch and started our hike, led by our guide Zane, and our LODs of the day, Kayes and Micheal D. The trail was not very established, so there was a lot of scrambling and climbing over trees, yet the crew was smiling the whole time. Kayes did an amazing job leading the group from the front, chatting and helping folks behind her get over the fallen trees, and Michael D. took caboose, chatting with Trent, Ryan and Caroline about sports and future Moondance trips. We hiked on, and soon arrived at our campsite for the day. As we set up camp, it began to rain, so we piled up in our tents and had a relaxing afternoon. Avery, Bonner and Delaney started a big game of BS in the girls’ tent, and the boys were quick to do the same in theirs. All the students took naps while Micheal S. and Caroline cooked up a dinner of ramen and chicken. The crew was tired and enjoying tent time, so we called an early night. We woke up the following morning with the beautiful warm sun. We made breakfast and quickly noticed a storm rolling in, so we hopped back in our tents.
Both the boys and the girls played BS in their tents, and the girls had a book club, taking turns reading while Kayes braided everyone’s hair. We waited out the rain, playing cards, reading, and taking naps. Michael S. and I then made lunch for everyone as the sun started to come out. We quickly got our things for an adventure to find a cave, spearheaded by Max and Michael D. We ran into another Big Wild Group, and all made our way climbing up the bluffs. Lila and Avery got cozy soaking up the sun on a rock face on our way up, and Trent and Silas took it slow, enjoying the view. Our group split off from the other, continuing our stroll, when all of a sudden, we saw a piñata hanging from a tree! The crew lined up to be blindfolded and take a swing. Starting with Cooper, taking a powerful swing and a miss, then to Bonner, who was able to hit it on the side. Next up was Max, using his baseball skills to swing and knock the piñata open, and out came skittles and starbursts! The crew was so excited for their special treat.
After our walk on the bluffs with all our candy, Max and Lila had the idea to go for a swim. Despite the changing weather and cold temps, everyone was on board. Max, Cooper, and our guide Zane were the first ones in, followed by Kayes, Bonner and Delaney. The first crew was so emphatic about how refreshing the water felt that others were quickly convinced. Lila was first out of that second wave of students, dunking under without hesitation by herself. She stayed in the water enthusiastically encouraging Silas, Michael D., Ryan, and Trent to join. Caroline eventually joined in, followed by Michael S. The group of 6 played a game of Big Booty in the water, where the loser had to dunk underwater. After swimming, the girls returned to their book club, this time outside in the sun, and joined by the boys.
While drying off from our refreshing swim, dinner was on its way. Max, Avery, Lila, and Caroline stayed to boil water for dinner, while Michael S. took the rest of the group up to the bluff on the west side of the lake. They had a blast hiking up the bluff, and Michael D. had a huge smile on his face the whole time, like a kid in a candy shop. Dinner was ready, Ramen and chicken again, which was the perfect meal after a rainy day and a cold swim. We had Moonup and quickly got into bed at the perfect time as if began to drizzle once again. The rain during our backpacking section was unfortunate, but our crew was able to turn the day around and enjoy whatever they were doing. It is very clear that it doesn’t matter about the activity or the circumstance, as long as they are spending quality time together.
Bye for now!
Caroline + Michael
June 14, 2023
Hello Big Wild Families,
After a successful airport day full of sweet greetings, dancing, and smiles, our newly formed crew went for a walk around Jenny Lake to kill time before our last arrival, Michael. We stopped in downtown Jackson, where the girls bought matching T-shirts, and Lila, a Cowboy hat, to wear to our rodeo later this week. Once we finished downtown, we picked up pizza for dinner and went back to the airport to pick up Michael D. The other students made a tunnel for him as he entered the van, what a welcome! Once we packed in the van, we drove to our campsite and had a pizza party! We taught lessons on tent set up, Leave No Trace principles, Expedition Behavior, and Leaders of the Day (LOD), followed by our first Moonup! Michael S. and I led the group, asking their goals for the summer and what they hope to get out of the trip. Avery, Katie, Delaney, Cooper, and Michael D. all hoped to make new friends and see cool places. Bonner, Lila, and Trent all wanted to get out of their comfort zones and push themselves to try something new. Michael S. and I chose our LODS for the next day, Silas and Avery. We ended our Moonup howling at the moon and went to bed ready for a day of fly fishing!
The next morning, we woke up for fly fishing nice and early and had a delicious breakfast. We packed up camp and met up with our Jackson Hole Fly Fishing guides who took us out for the day. Once we arrived at JHFFS, we learned about different types of fish, different flys, and how to cast. After a few practice sessions, we stopped for lunch, and played some of our favorite games like Signs, Ninja, and Big Booty. Soon enough, we were out on the water! Our groups were all scattered down Snake River where students were able to put their skills to the test. Trent and Lila were quickly casting like pros, Lila getting especially savvy learning the right tricks to casting as a lefty. Ryan and Silas were wading beside one another, Ryan eager to chat with his new friends, especially cheering on Silas when he caught a whitefish! Sadly, a thunderstorm quickly approached overhead, so each group had to cut their fishing time a bit short. Spirits were still high as everyone came together to talk about their experiences. Katie was part of one of the last groups to arrive, entering camp with a huge smile on her face, despite having been out in the rain.
We played a quick game of trivia and said our goodbyes and thank you’s to our guides before heading in the van to drive to Pinedale to meet with our backpacking guides. They greeted us with a warm welcome, and we followed them to our campsite. Unfortunately, our van and U-Haul got stuck going up trail, causing us to have to brainstorm on how to get it back down. The boys were an immense help in using their weight to help us lift the U-Haul onto the hitch, and the girls were incredibly patient spending quality time together in the van, which Bonner noted to be a highlight of her day. Cooper and Max were quick to offer help, and Michael D. was smiling the whole time. Michael S. was a pro at driving down the trail in reverse, and soon enough we got unstuck and were able to set up camp on the lawn of our outfitters. We had a late dinner and Moonup and quickly went to sleep.
Within the first two days of the trip, this group has already expressed how much they love each other, like they’ve known each other for years. We couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming two weeks, spending quality time getting to know each student.
Caroline and Michael S.
June 11, 2023
Hello Big Wild Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Jackson Hole! 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!