June 21, 2023
Hello friends and families! We have continued to be impressed by the kids going with the flow and taking each day at a time in the final quarter of the trip. Despite the wildfires keeping us from Tofino, we were able to make the most of the situation and stay positive. Instead of surfing in Tofino, we traveled by ferry to Quadra Island for a day of sea kayaking. We all paired up in tandem kayaks and traveled four miles to a spectacular beach in a secluded cove to eat lunch. The intertidal zone on the shoreline was filled with an array of ocean species. The shallow estuary was chock full of starfish, jellyfish, crabs, sand dollars, and minnows of a variety of fish species! The kids were amazed by all the sea life they encountered on the rocky shoreline. Kate and Caroline picked up many of the starfish to show everyone. The paddle was an all-day affair, and the kiddos ended up surprising themselves with a strong 8-nautical-mile paddle.
The next morning Catherine Dunn, Catherine Draughon, and Sydney woke up early with Jared and Porter in hopes of seeing some whales off the beach at Rebecca Spit. For an hour we sat, seeing a few bald eagles and ducks fly overhead, but then a humpback whale breached in the distance! For the next thirty minutes, us five watched as whales spouted water from their blowholes off the beach. After whale watching, we made blueberry cinnamon pancakes, eggs, and bacon for a late breakfast. We had a slight change in plans due to a dead car battery, but everyone spent a day combing the beach exploring the tidal ecosystems on the shore and reading their summer reading books they had packed for the trip. Bronson, Ben, Penn, and Cooper made forts out of the wood and rocks on the beach and imagined they were in a beach war! In the evening, we played a charades game called “salad bowl” and Amara made us crack up with her acting. We concluded the night by having a pasta dinner and homemade brownies cooked by Porter.
Our van, dubbed Jordana, was back in action the next day for a big travel back to Seattle. After two ferries from Quadra and Vancouver Islands, our crew arrived in Vancouver for our banquet dinner. The theme chosen by the kiddos was pajamas and the cuisine was Mexican. The food was delicious, and the servers were cracking up at the outlandish outfits we chose to wear, especially Cooper’s.
Our final Moonup was at the airport and was very meaningful. We asked the students to name a moment from the trip they’d never forget and for them to tell everyone what they took away from their experience with one another on Moondance. We stopped to appreciate the memories made with each other and to consider the impact each student had on the group.
We loved seeing how comfortable the kids were with each other by the end of the trip and seeing strong friendships form. The goodbyes were hard for all of us. Violet was the first to go and there were many tears. We could not have asked for a better group for our first session. We have valued getting to know each and every kid on this trip. Thank you for trusting us, the leaders, to take a trip of a lifetime with your children; we are honored to have led them around British Columbia for the last few weeks.
All the best,
Porter, Julianna, and Jared
June 19, 2023
What’s up fam and friends!
After our ferry ride to Vancouver Island, we drove to the town of Cumberland for our campsite on Comox Lake. The students immediately decided to jump in the cold lake water! Sydney and Caroline were nervous to jump in the cold water but built up the courage to join the rest of the group. The students played games including Big Booty (ask them later) and King of the Hill on a floating deck in the middle of the lake. Cooper and Ben loved sinking the dock until everyone flew off the side! As we dried off, Porter made everyone a comfort meal of Annie’s Mac and Cheese and it was a hit! That night, we had Moonup on the beach under a beautiful sunset.
The next morning, we were able to sleep in a little bit. We woke up to warm and yummy pancakes topped with Nutella! The group headed to Strahcona Provential Park, one of the best nature parks in all of British Columbia. After a long drive along a gorgeous blue lake, we unfortunately found that our hike was closed due to construction. Luckily, we found a creek at the foot of a mountain to enjoy our lunch. We then followed the park signs to find a multiple level, 200 ft waterfall! The kids climbed up and down the rocks and snapped some great pictures. When we arrived back to the campsite, we all tie-dyed Moondance shirts. Kate and Bronson were experts and created really unique designs! The leaders brought out the spike ball net and the kids became super competitive. We ended the evening with pita pizzas for dinner. Ben, Bronson, and Penn all dropped their pizzas in the dirt within 2 minutes of each other, but thankfully we had some extras! We had another Moonup on the beach, but this time the group could hardly get through it because we were all laughing too hard at our inside jokes!
Day nine was a very special day, as it was Amara’s 13th birthday and officially the start to our climbing section of the trip! We woke up Amara with decorations, a card, and lots of candy. We met our climbing outfitters, Jordan and Caroline, and they set us up with all of our climbing equipment. Leader of the days, Penn and Violet, were great at taking control of the group for the first day of climbing. They took us to our first wall where it was a little daunting looking! We loved seeing the group come together to cheer everyone on and help explain different ways to climb up the walls! After lunch, the guides took us to a more difficult wall. Sydney and Catherine Dunn quickly became skilled climbers and were getting to the top of the hardest rocks! To prepare for the next day, we learned how to repel ourselves down cliffs. This was easily one of the scariest parts of the trip thus far, as there were big ledges and moss growing on the rocks. We were so proud of Amara and Caroline for making it all the way down the wall! Catherine Draughon was a natural at repelling! After climbing ended for the day, it was time to celebrate Amara’s birthday! We cooked her favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs with salad and garlic bread. We finished with a delicious birthday cake, singing happy birthday!
Today, we began our second day of climbing! We started with walls that had a lot less handholds than the day before. Despite the difficulty, every student took a try at a wall. The outfitters complimented our group saying we were the most adventurous group they worked with. For lunch, we moved to our next climbing spot, Devils Ladder. The view was on a massive cliff looking over the deep blue lake water with mountains in the background. After lunch, it was time to take on the hardest climb! Devils ladder was a 350ft repell over Lake Comox with only a small wooden bench at the bottom. After descending, the only option was to climb back up along a small crack in the wall! Bronson, Ben, Penn, Cooper, Sydney, Violet, and Catherine Dunn all were brave enough to take on the climb! They rest of the group cheered on and supported everyone through the climb.Lastly, we want to wish all the BCO B dads a Happy Father’s Day! We love and miss you all!
Talk soon, Julianna, Jared, and Porter
June 14, 2023
Hello BCO family and friends! We are so excited to update you on all we’ve been up to!
BCO B said farewell to Squamish today. After 7 days in the area, our trip now heads towards Vancouver Island for the next week. Since you last heard from us, we’ve whitewater rafted the Squamish-Elaho Rivers, moved campsites, spent an afternoon recharging in Squamish, and boarded a ferry from Hurricane Bay headed towards the long-awaited Vancouver Island. We write to you now from said ferry!
Our group has become a cohesive unit of kind, compassionate teenagers. We all made an agreement during our first Moonup to respect one another, something that each of your kiddos has strived for during the last week. It has paid off. All of us have nicknames we’ve given each other, we share inside jokes ad nauseum, and everyone pitches in on our daily tasks like pitching tents, preparing food, and washing dishes. Us leaders have been impressed by the growth and companionship we’ve seen within this group!
Our overnight whitewater rafting trip was particularly special. Our guides, Keaton, Wilson, and Connor led our team in two paddle boats through world-class Stage III and IV rapids nestled in soaring granite canyons. Keaton and Wilson were eager to explain the geological processes that formed the glacial valley as well as the dormant volcanoes that loomed overhead throughout our paddle. We all had a chance to swim a rapid in our wetsuits, which all the kids eagerly went for (despite the water being around 35 degrees!). After a big first day of rapids on the Elaho, we pulled over on a riverside island for camp. The guides cooked us all a surf and turf dinner of steak and fresh salmon, which was quickly devoured by all (Bronson sumped the leftovers with Porter, Jared, and the guides). We also had Dutch oven lava cakes with blueberry preserves for dessert, then had an especially meaningful Moonup with our guides where we all were vulnerable and shared our biggest fears with one another. We decided to cowboy camp right on the riverbank that night! Violet, Bronson, Catherine Draughon, Cooper, Penn, and Ben sat on a gravel bar trading tall tales until the stars came out, more plentiful and bright than many of us had ever seen!
We woke up the next morning to French toast and bacon before floating down flatwater to the takeout spot. After saying farewell to the guides, we headed to Squamish for a well-deserved rest and recharge. On our car ride, Catherine Dunn was helping us DJ with her eclectic music taste. Ben, Penn, and Cooper all got surprises for their parents when they return! After exploring town for a couple hours, we went out for a delicious dinner at a Canadian/Cajun restaurant. The girls table was crying with laughter because of Caroline’s ridiculous stories. The porch we sat on was directly under The Chief, an iconic Squamish mountain. After dinner, we had Moonup in the park, where we all shared our most embarrassing stories and Sydney’s story might’ve taken the cake. Once we got back to camp, our LODs, Kate and Catherine Dunne helped us pitch tents before the sun went down for an early goodnight.
We are sad to leave such a beautiful place but cannot wait for more adventures to come on Vancouver Island! We are eager to celebrate Amara’s 13th birthday coming up soon! Again, thank you for entrusting your kids to us leaders, and for giving your kids the opportunity to grow and experience such great adventures!
“I can’t wait to show mom” – Ben, Penn, and Cooper
“‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’ – Kim Kardashian” – Bronson
“SUMP, SUMP, SUMP” – everyone
“PLAY TAYLOR SWIFT!!!!!!” – everyone
“Oh Brian” – everyone
“Miss” – everyone when Porter tries to make a joke
“THIS FOOD IS BUSS” – Amara (everyone caught on)
“STEEZE” – Porter (no one caught on)
Porter, Jared, Julianna, and the bear that walked past our campsite
June 13, 2023
Hello BCO family and friends!!!
After a long day at the airport, waiting for each student to arrive, we headed off to our first campsite (Bay View State Park). Ben loved his first car ride, singing Beyoncé and making everyone laugh! We played trivia and name games in the car and then picked up 4 large pizzas for dinner. When we arrived at our campsite, we ate all the pizza then Cooper showed the group how to set up a tent. His leadership skills were well shown during his demo! Kate and Amara were already pros at setting up tents! We were so impressed! We finalized the night by having our first Moonup by the lake and watching the beautiful sunset. During this, the kids were able to share why they all wanted to come on a Moondance trip. The first two Leaders of the Day chosen at Moonup were Cooper and Catherine Draugher!
Day two started off by having a yummy breakfast of muffins, bagels, fresh fruit and chocolate milk to fuel up for the day! Catherine Draugher kept her positive attitude up throughout the whole morning and led the morning huddle with everyone. We loved watching how the group instantly clicked and formed bonds. After cleaning up the campground, we headed off to cross the border! We were all psyched to visit Canada for the first time ever. The border crossing went smoothly and then we were off to our new campsite! This campsite was on Alice Lake. The campsite was surrounded by a lot of pine trees and moss and we all agreed that our site was extremely peaceful and relaxing. Despite it being around 55 degrees, some of the kids decided to have a polar plunge and jump into the frigid lake. We concluded the night by having a big pasta dinner, playing more games, and having our second Moonup. Sydney continued to stay positive and keep her energy up for her first-time camping in the woods!
Day three was our earliest morning so far! We had the kids up and moving by 5 am to start our sea kayaking adventure! We set out on Squamish Bay and were approached by many otters! Caroline was the most excited about seeing the otters and named one Arollo. We were able to see many amazing views and our favorite was Chief Mountain. We were impressed by Penn’s ability to push through the tough waves and current and keep a great attitude. After the kayaking was over, we struggled to take our wetsuits off, but a well-deserved hot tub was waiting around the corner. The kids were thrilled, and their faces lit up when they got in. Finally, we hiked the Smokey Bluffs Mountain. We loved Violet’s positivity and energy while hiking and she enjoyed the beautiful view when we arrived at the top. We ended the night with an amazing dinner cooked by Bronson, who made a delicious stir fry dish that everyone loved, and another great Moonup!
Day four was the most exhilarating for everyone. After a long drive, we got fitted for more wetsuits and climbing shoes, then hiked down to Lost Creek. The creek contained many waterfalls, ginormous rocks, and beautiful views of British Columbia. We started off climbing upstream, then took a quick lunch stop to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After we ate, the guides prepared us to repel down the waterfalls. We repelled a total of 4 waterfalls! Catherine Dunn was called out with having amazing form. She killed it canyoning! The kids were all proud of themselves after repelling down many waterfalls and stepping out of their comfort zones. They were especially proud that they repelled a waterfall that was 120 feet tall! We were incredibly proud of them and gave them well deserved sweet treats after! We finished the day with a yummy jambalaya dinner that filled all our stomachs. Our Moonup was powerful, and we reflected on a full day of constant activity and our favorite memories of the day!
BCO B parents: A HUGE thank you from our group to you all. We could not have asked for a better group to start off the summer!
Julianna, Porter, and Jared
June 8, 2023
Hello British Columbia Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Seattle with all of their luggage! 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!