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Big Wild 3.5A • July 16-July 29, 2023

Farewell Wyoming!

July 29, 2023

We are writing with our last update from Wyoming, and can’t believe it’s over! After we left the boat ramp we settled into our routine car rides, happy to munch on snacks and listen to music. We surprised everyone with pizza on the drive and listened to music from just about every decade possible! Cowboy camping is the new norm and we quickly fell asleep under the stars.

To get the most out of our banquet day, we woke up with the sunrise and rolled into the van to drive from Idaho to Wyoming! The rolling hills, rising sun, and towering mountains made for perfect entertainment as everyone snoozed in the van. As a treat, we surprised everyone with Chick Fi La!! It was a sweet taste of home and a delicious reward for our long drive. Our next stop was Goodwill to pick out our silly outfits for banquet dinner! Cooper R dressed as an all-blue, PJ-clad Superman. Rory had a hot pink sweat suit and accessories that made her look like she stepped right out of the 2000’s. Cooper D pieced together an outfit to mimic Macklemore, an ode to the notorious song “Thrift Shopping”. Don’t worry, he fit his big fur coat in his duffel! Quinn obviously had to try the coat on and honestly looked even more like Macklemore. Cooper E’s outfit was a clean mix of edgy country club that had everyone laughing. Harry looked like a 2010 backup dancer in his bedazzled belt, cutoff shirt, and sideways pink visor. Buzzing about our hilarious outfits, the rest of the drive over the pass to Jackson flew by. In town, we started with showers to rinse off the river and get clean for our flights home. We ate chicken Caesar salad and then herded into town to buy souvenirs and walk around! Rory, Lillian, Caroline, Sully, and Finley all got matching bracelets. We wandered into shops, enjoyed the energy of the square, and bought some fun memorabilia! All shopped out, we went to Mexican for dinner and sipped on long-awaited cold sodas. After some delicious ice cream, while sitting in the square, everyone piled on top of one another for a silly photo. Graham posed on top, and it is a photo to remember! Back at camp, we had a final Moonup to reflect on the trip. We started by reading the Bon Vivant manifesto from the quote book, and then everyone shared three things they love about themselves. This prompt is so important because each of our students has so much to love about themselves and should know it!!! Everyone took turns sharing their high of the trip, funniest moment of the trip, and final nugs. We ended by listening to ’98 Braves and burning on matching p-cord bracelets. Our final Moonup was full. Full of laughs, smiles, tears, memories, and gratitude. Goodbyes are hard, but they are also sweet. We built such a strong, compassionate, and silly group over the past two weeks. Everyone tried something new, got comfortable with the uncomfortable, and made new friends. We are so thankful for every moment of the past two weeks, from fun family feud to cold Wyoming nights, we wouldn’t change a thing.


Thank you, Big Wild!

Sending love,

Sam and Suzanne

Off the River and Into Jackson!

July 28, 2023

Hello from Idaho!


We just got off the river and have so many exciting stories to share. The rodeo feels like forever ago, but it was a blast! We danced, said hi to another big wild group, and cheered on the wranglers. We got up bright and early the next day to start our drive to Idaho! Cooper E’s birthday was celebrated with a surprise stop at Five Guys, and we devoured the delicious burgers. We got Cooper E a present of UNO and Scooby snacks! In the car, everyone played games, sang songs, and took well deserved naps. We loved our campsite at Ponderosa Stare Park because of the fun energy and beautiful views. Graham, Cooper E and Sully, after days of begging, were cook crew yet again with fajitas for dinner!! While we cooked, Sully and Cooper D led the way in a fun game of tough football. When we noticed a beautiful sunset over the lake, we ran to the shore to take in the pretty pinks and purples in the sky. We got Cooper E cupcakes with candles to celebrate turning 15, and Finley got him a silly shirt to wear on the river. We cowboy camped for the first time tonight and loved falling asleep looking at the stars!


The next morning, we woke up to a big buck walking through our camp, followed by two little guys. The drive though the Idaho mountains was beautiful, and before no time we were at the put in! We met our guides, Mason, Olivia, Langdon, Hedda, and Gus. The first float down the river started off with lots of fun bouncy rapids! We stopped for a delicious sandwich lunch before hopping back on the river. Cooper D, Quinn and Harry had fun pulling people in and making our swim group as big as possible! Our first camp on the river was perfect for spike ball, so we immediately rattled off some competitive games! Cooper R and Quinn held king of the court against Cooper E and Harry and Cooper D and Graham! They were de-throned by Suzanne and Caroline who held the court for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, Sully, Lillian, Finely, and Rory played UNO with Sam. Finley, Cooper E, Graham, and Suzanne played lots of competitive games of kemps, and everyone battled to figure out Grahams brilliant sign. We had delicious burgers for dinner and were ready for bed by the end of the night. For dessert, we roasted s’mores and played some more cards! Even though everyone was tired, we star gazed for hours, in awe of the Milky Way and illuminated sky. We tracked satellites across the sky, saw burning shooting stars, and pieced together constellations. Cooper E, Finley, Sam and Suzanne stayed up the longest to soak up the stars and reaped an awesome reward. We saw a massive comet, shooting bright blue and white light across the sky. None of us had ever seen anything like it before and will never forget such an incredible sighting. Wound up from the comet sighting, we were able to spot some storm clouds blanketing the sky in time to pitch tents and pile in for a well-deserved night’s sleep.


Mason, our head guide, woke everyone up with a pit and pan and his dog Maria jumping at his heels. We gave big pets to Maria before packing up for the day. We sat eating French toast and fruit as the sun crawled over the canyon and the guides cannon balled into the river. Quinn started his routine of a morning dip, and Cooped R snagged the football to toss. We loaded into our boats and pushed off and headed right into a big class IV rapid! On Olivia’s boat Finley, Graham, Cooper E, Cooper R and Cooper D played contact and Cooper D set the record for quickest guesses. To beat the heat, we had lots of water gun fights, boat coo’s and swimming sessions! The guides cheffed up chicken Caesar salad for lunch, and gave us time to play a few rounds of spike ball on the beach. At camp, we kept up the spike ball while also playing hackey sack and throwing the football. Music, games and cards filled our afternoon. Finley and Cooper E still couldn’t figure out Graham and Suzanne’s kemps sign, and Cooper R and Quinn kept running spike ball. We were treated to pork chops, potatoes, roasted veggies and peach cobbler for dinner! Rory and Graham led us through Moonup, asking “what is the best decision you have ever made” and electing Lillian and Quinn LODs! Our closing ceremony was a rowdy game of family feud, and the teams were boy’s vs girls! It brought out lots of laughs, as Cooper D and Finley coached their teams through the game. We quickly went to bed under the blanket of stars after the boys took home a runaway win.


Maria ran circles around us as we woke up, sparking giggles and smiles despite the early morning. For breakfast we had breakfast casserole, fruit, and croissants! We loaded up the gear boats and pushed off for another day of rafting, and music along the way. A bald eagle that had been flying alongside us yesterday popped up again, as well as some goats and deer! Cooper D tried out paddling and we had more water wars. We got soaked headed down a big class IV rapid, and Finley ended up swimming one of them! We ate lunch where the snake and salmon rivers meet, with Oregon on one side and an Idaho on the other! Our last campsite was by far the best, with a groover cave, private spike ball beach, and lots of shade! For dinner we had big scoops of lasagna, followed by more family feud! This time the girls won, with Sully and Caroline throwing out some of the best answers! Quinn and Lillian started Moonup with a silly prank that including burying Graham in the sand to jump out and scare everyone! Our outfitters joined us for Moonup, and everyone shared their greatest fear. Sleeping under the stars became the normal and after Graham washed all the sand out of his ears, we quickly fell asleep! We had one last wake up by Maria’s licks and packed up for the last time. We ate s’mores French toast and melon, and the boys tossed the football. We pushed off for the last time, finishing on the snake river and on a mega boat with a motor. We picked up a family fighting the wind and swapped snacks and stories along the way. Caroline, Graham, and Harry all debated their favorite places in Georgia while Marie perched on the front of the boat. We crossed into Washington, marking our third state for the day, and soaked up our last bit of river time. It was sad to part ways when we reached the river ramp. Our guides were so personable, interesting, thoughtful, and hard working that it made our trip the best it could be! We’re on our way to the campsite out of Boise now, and have some final shout outs to share:


Rory – rafting the salmon river was the highlight of this trip! Thanks so much, can’t wait to see y’all soon!!


Caroline – Dear Mom and Dad, I loved rafting the salmon’s river it was the best part of the trip. Thank you so much and I am so excited to see y’all soon! Happy birthday mom!!! Love y’all.


Sully – hey mom and dad!!!! I’m having so much fun! Thank you so much for letting me go on Moondance! I had so much fun rafting! Can’t wait to tell y’all all about it!


Cooper E – mom and dad, white water rafting was really fun. Thanks again for sending me on this trip. See y’all soon.


Graham – thanks so much for sending me to Moondance. I’ve had a really good time. Can’t wait to see you soon


Cooper D – dear mom and dad, thank you so much for sending me on Moondance. The rafting was so much fun and I can’t wait go see you and the dog again


Harry – Thank y’all for letting me come. I can’t wait to see y’all


Quinn – dead mom and dad, thank you for sending me to Moondance. I had a great time rafting. Love you!


Cooper R – dear mom and dad, this trip has been so much fun and thank you for sending me. Rafting was my favorite part.


Finley – dear mom and dad, the rafting portion on the salmon river was definitely my favorite. Thank y’all so much for sending me in this Moondance trip! I miss y’all and can’t wait to see everyone soon!


We’ll be back with an update of our final two days in Wyoming, and sad to see it coming to an end!

Suz and Sam

Fishing and Backpacking in Wyoming!

July 23, 2023

Welcome to our lives in Wyoming!

We said goodbye to our campsite and began making our way to Pinedale for fishing. Along the way, we treated everyone to a glorious target run. Everyone happily picked out a drink and snack to fill their craving for the real world. Everyone sang along to the tunes as we turned down the mountains of Wyoming. A river ran alongside us, giving everyone plenty of beautiful sights. We made a pit stop in Pinedale to munch on sandwiches, and even had ice cold water! Happy to have something chilled to sip on, the group laughed and chatted while inquiring about the small town of Pinedale.

Fly fishing was our next stop, where we split into groups and hopped in drift boats. Finley hopped in with Suzanne and impressed our guide Yancey with her natural cast. She quickly had a long and pretty cast, ready to tempt the smartest of fish. We threw some streamers while enjoying the wide, winding river. It was easy to get lost in the tricky water, rocking boat, and vast views stretching beyond the banks. Cooper D. hopped in with Sam, and proved to be our most eager fly fisher! His excitement paid off when he caught a massive 18 inch trout, and it was a looker too. What a trophy! After fly fishing, we hummed to strings and the kids took well deserved cat naps. Everyone rustled awake as we approached the winds, and we were treated to a sunlit mountain range view. We arrived at camp and chowed down on delicious stir fry chicken and veggies. Cooper E and Sully led the group through moonup as LODs, and we ended with a howl at the moon.

We awoke with lots to do, firstly learn how to backpack! Everyone learned the ABCs of packing a bag, got their hands on some group gear, and filled their packs with our livelihood for the next three days. Cooper R, Quinn and Sully were quick to offer to take on more group gear, and everyone got a feel for their packs on their backs. We had a few hours of driving to the trailhead, which was spent jamming to country music and playing 20 questions! Graham and Harry filled the air with lots of questions, some silly and some thoughtful, just like we’ve come to love! While the group started on the trail with apprehensive steps, by the time a mile had passed the group found their groove. Trail talk commenced, and time flew by! Suzanne threw out a couple of tough riddles, which Caroline, Lillian, Cooper R, Cooper D and Finley early puzzled at. Caroline solved one and Copper D two, and barely noticed the miles passing by under their feet. We made one final turn and faced a massive elevation gain when we were met with a hail storm, but distracted ourselves with some music! After a tough climb, we reached our campsite which was tucked in the mountains by a beautiful lake. Once camp was set up we started dinner, with Finley, Cooper R and Harry as the cook crew! Chicken pesto pasta filled us up, and after dinner Caroline taught everyone how to play signs! Caroline and Graham, our LODs, led us through one of our favorite moonups yet. They started with a quote about challenges and the uncomfortable. Everyone answered what their B+ superpowers would be, Quinn and Finley were elected tomorrows LODs, and we howled at the moon to close out. The stars grabbed everyone’s attention before sleeping soundly.

Our second day in the backcountry was all about enjoying the outdoors! We slept in until a whopping 9pm, and then ate delicious M&M pancakes with Nutella, peanut butter and honey on top! Nugs to Sully, Caroline, Rory, Finley and Quinn for whipping them up for us! Energized from breakfast, we hiked even higher up to an even more secluded mountain lake. It was surrounded by snow still hanging on from the winter, and the water was a beautiful turquoise. Per tradition, the group did a polar plunge in the lake! Cooper E led the way, and eventually everyone was dunking into the frigid water. We then rewarded ourselves by basking on warm rocks while listening to music. Back at camp, we played games, chatted, and enjoyed each other’s company. Quinn and Cooper D religiously fished and were rewarded with trout! Lillian and Quinn made everyone pepperoni pizza for dinner, and we played more games by the lake. LODs Quinn and Lillian led us through moonup, where we shared the greatest piece of advice we’ve ever received and closed with a game of telephone! Despite being tired, everyone stayed up to gaze at the stunning stars, unlike any they’d ever seen.

Our final day in the backcountry started early, with hot showers waiting on the other side! We packed up camp and cruised down the trail, motivated by a taste of the real world. We entertained ourselves with riddles, games, and songs and in no time we were back at our van. Long awaited showers felt so good, and everyone was treated to delicious burgers and fries. We are now on the way to our Rodeo, and will check back in with lots of updates from Cooper E’s birthday, Rafting, and everything in between!

Catch you on the other side,

Suzanne and Sam


Here are shoutouts from everyone!

Cooper E- thanks mom and dad for sending me on this trip! I’m having a lot of fun and the mountains are really cool

Harry- thanks for letting me go on this trip. I enjoyed the rock climbing a lot.

Cooper R- the trip is very fun so far. My favorite part has definitely been the rock climbing.

Quinn- I’ve had a great time so far. Thank you mom and dad for sending me on this trip!

Cooper D- hey mom and dad! I am I having so much fun. My favorite part so far has been rock climbing.

Graham- happy birthday Ellie! I hope you had a good day and got a phone

Finley- I’m having fun and finally got a shower after a week! I love you both so much, say hi to jamo, pres, coco, and the cats for me.

Sully- hey mom, dad, and KT!!!! I am having so much fun and miss y’all!! I can’t wait to tell you all about it! Love you!

Lillian – I’m having so much fun! I miss you and love you so much!

Caroline- I’m having so so much fun and it’s so pretty here! Miss both of y’all so much say hi to the dogs for me!

Rory- hi mom, dad, teddy, and knox! Missing hall and the dogs but it’s so fun so far. Can’t wait to see y’all and win and Mary soon.

Rockin' out while Rock Climbing!

July 19, 2023

Hello from beautiful Wyoming!

We are happy to share that our trip is off to a wonderful start. On airport day, the group started with Rory, who was the first to land! As people trickled in, we started a game of cards which Emma quickly beat everyone at. Cooper E and Sully showed us some magic tricks that blew our minds! Everyone whooped and cheered for Cooper R., our last arrival, and happily rode in the van to camp. Everyone practiced setting up tents for the first time, and were proud of their self-made homes. Ready to get started, we took the group to a field nestled under the ski mountain to play some games. It started with a competitive game of ultimate frisbee, and despite the exhaustion of airport day everyone got into it! Caroline took home a few points, as did Quinn and Cooper D! Once we had our fill of frisbee, we sat in the cool shade and spent some time breaking the ice. We played some of the classics, like two truths and a lie! Happy in our mountain shade, the group chowed down on pizza from a local stop. Back at camp, we settled into our first moonup! Moonup is a time for our group to reflect on the day, share with each other, and elect LOD’s. We chose our first LOD’s (leaders of the day) because of their outgoing spirits, positive attitudes, and excitement amidst the ever tiring airport day: Cooper D and Finley! Everyone answered the question “what are you nervous about, and what are you most excited for,” and we closed out our first moonup.

We woke with the sun for our second day, and first day of rock climbing! We got to climb in Teton village and enjoyed the views along the drive. We rode the gondola up the mountain while Graham and Cooper D. discussed mountain biking. The boys debated the best ski mountains, and before no time we were at the top of the gondola! A short hike brought us to our first climbing spot. Our guides showed everyone how to use their climbing shoes, a range of techniques for foot and hand placement, and lots of new climbing phrases! Quinn dove into the climbing, showing off his experience with and love for it. Finley cheered people on while Sully took GoPro videos, after scampering up the wall themselves. Everyone got to try their hand at belaying, which proved to be a wonderful trust exercise for the group! During lunch, everyone enjoyed the views from way above Jackson Hole and basked in the shade. Rory impressed the guides with great belaying technique and conquered her fear of climbing. We surprised the group after climbing with a lake visit, because we love jumping in mountain lakes! Everyone conquered the frigid water while attempting to take a “lake bath”. Cooper E was the first to brave the cold and dunk all the way under, followed by Finley and Cooper R. We enjoyed the warm sun on the beach of the lake before riding back to camp. Caroline and Lillian threw out song requests, and everyone sun along to the music as we wound through the mountains. Our first cook crew consisted of Cooper E, Dwight, and Rory, who took on the challenge with excitement! Cooper E smashed up avocados for homemade guacamole, Dwight took on the fajita veggies, and Rory grilled the chicken. While canned chicken was a shock at first, everyone ended up laughing over draining the chicken juice. Cook crew was a blast, and they begged to do it every day! After chowing on our delicious meal, everyone gathered for our second moonup. Cooper D and Finley ran the ritual, starting with a quote and then the nug jug! Harry was named LOD for his kindness, and Sully for her encouraging words while climbing.

We again woke up with the sun for climbing, this time in Grand Teton National Park! We spotted a Moose along the river and the drive treated us well, providing picturesque views of the Tetons. We got geared up before hiking to Jenny Lake and hopping on a boat to cross the river. The turquoise water sparkled, and we gazed up at where we would climb today! We split up into groups, with Quinn and Cooper R choosing the “hot tamale”, or most challenging group. Harry and Cooper D also opted for a big challenge, after feeling confident the day prior. Caroline, Lillian, and Sully took on the most rappelling of the day, while Emma and Rory were the first to do multi pitch climbing! Hot from the sun and sated from our challenging climbs, it seemed the best option was another polar plunge! Everyone swam into the crystal-clear weather, the Tetons towering over us, and quickly adjusted to the frigid water. Treating it more like a swim than a dunk, everyone is getting more comfortable in the cold mountain lakes! The drive flew by as everyone sang along to Morgan Wallen. Emma, Caroline, and Cooper D served as our cook crew for tonight, and cheffed up a delicious cookout spread of burgers, hot dogs, and grilled veggies. The nerves leading up to backpacking are fading, and we are excited to jump into fly fishing tomorrow! We’ll be back with another update after what we are sure will be a blast in the backcountry.

Sending nugs,

Suzanne and Sam

Safety Arrived in Jackson!

July 16, 2023

Hello Big Wild Families!

We heard from our leaders that the group has landed safely in Jackson! 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


  • Quinn
  • Caroline
  • Cooper
  • Cooper
  • Graham
  • Lillian
  • Harry
  • Rory
  • Cooper
  • Finley
  • Sully