July 9, 2023
It is with heavy but full bursting hearts that we inform all of you every kid is now en route home from our two-week adventure. We cannot believe our 14 days as a group flew by so quickly! Before we sign off, we thought we’d tell you a little about how we finished up the last couple of days of our trip.
After the completion of our whitewater rafting section, everyone in the group was excited to embark on a new adventure: sea kayaking! As we got started with our outfitter in the harbor, we marveled at the magnificent view of The Chief, an icon of Squamish culture and a local mecca for outdoor activities of all kinds. Sunshiny weather in the bay made the sea sparkle as we all dropped into kayaks and hit the ground running (or the water paddling, we suppose we should say)! We learned so much about the history of the Chief and the town of Squamish’s overall history during our tour, and we even enjoyed some seal sightings! Sammy liked to call them the puppies of the sea every time we saw one pop up, so we think that will be their official name from here on out. Even though we saw a little bit of wind, Kemmons led the group with his strong paddling and Anna followed closely behind, both encouraging the rest of the group to keep paddling and keeping spirits up! As we reached the furthest point of our tour, we enjoyed seeing the crabs our outfitters caught in their traps, but Eliza wasn’t too keen on our outfitter’s joke that he would throw the crab in her boat! After paddling out to the point where the harbor begins to meet the Pacific Ocean, we headed back to the dock where we put up our kayaks and enjoyed a luxurious time in the hot tub! Katherine told us we ought to buy one for our campsites – stay tuned as we get a budget worked out on that ;). We grabbed lunch at a local diner down the road and headed back to camp for a chill afternoon of card games, naps, and chats, and we wrapped up with a not-so-chill evening activity of Caroline smashing the remainder of our freedom cake in Kemmons’ face. We’re not sure anyone stopped laughing for a solid 10 minutes, and I know my stomach still hurts. The super sweet end to our day only got us more excited for the next few days we had left together!
Day 12 of our trip started rather bright and early with a mini road trip for our canyoning activity! Some of the group caught some extra Zs in the van while others, such as Andrew, rocked out to the music and helped us curate the ultimate “wake up” playlist! Everyone loaded up on snacks and caffeine at a gas station before we dove into getting changed into wetsuits and listening to our safety briefing with our outfitter! Everyone just had a ball as we rappelled waterfalls, flew down zip lines, climbed on and in some epic rocks, and enjoyed the kaleidoscope of greens across the forest. Josephine particularly impressed the group with her canyoning skills, getting called a ninja by our outfitter and leading the way on many of the routes! Canyoning is a special activity for us because it’s definitely the one that we have the most first-timers in, and it was a ton of fun seeing everyone flourish in this new setting and getting so excited to be a part of it! By the time we were packing up to leave in the afternoon, many members of the group said that canyoning was their favorite activity of the trip! After our return back to camp, we enjoyed a scrumptious taco bar, during which our specific cook crew grew into a group cook crew to curate the most perfectly seasoned ground beef, and we beat some doubters of the group by making some insane cilantro lime rice. We finished the day with a campfire, which was extremely exciting because it was the first one allowed all summer due to previous fire bans, so we made s’mores, consequently debated over how to perfectly roast a marshmallow for a s’more, and had a special Moonup discussing our favorite moments of the trip. It’s always fun to reflect on which parts of the trip have special impacts on certain folks, so this time was both sentimental and all things fun! It was definitely a little hard to bite the bullet and finally go to bed since we knew it was our last night in Canada, but we eventually drifted off to sleep under the cover of clear, starry skies.
Our last full day together was another beloved Van day, and everyone loaded up with snacks, bags, and tons of energy as we prepared to make our way back into Seattle! The long wait time at the border couldn’t deter our enthusiasm to be back in the land of the free, and of course, we celebrated the date being July 7th by streaming Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). Special shoutouts go to Brad, James, and the boys of the group for putting up with us as we positively freaked over Taylor’s newest masterpiece. Before making it all the way back to Seattle, we stopped at a thrift store to grab some silly outfits for our banquet. Everyone got very creative and the silliness was off the charts, and before we knew it, we were the best-dressed squad rolling up to the local Mexican joint in Seattle. Our banquet dinner had a day full of fun packed into just a couple hours. Many members of the group enjoyed humongous virgin piña coladas and margaritas, Luke shocked and impressed the group by taking a shot of the restaurant’s spiciest sauce they had to offer, and Caroline revealed to us that her secret talent is belly dancing. We finished our banquet by having a day-early celebration for Kemmons’ 14th birthday! The restaurant brought him a sombrero to wear as the entire wait staff sang him happy birthday alongside our table. We finished the night by pushing our friends around the parking lot in shopping carts one last time and loading up on sweets and snacks at a gas station for our big travel day. Our last Moonup included a time for us to give nugs to every individual member of the group, after which the leaders presented some paper plate awards to every student and we all shared more about moments of the trip that impacted us. Even though we didn’t enjoy much sleep in terms of quantity, the fulfillment that came from our last day together was fuel enough to make it to the airport and get these kids situated for home.
It’s so bittersweet for us to say goodbye to your kiddos today. These past two weeks have been wild and crazy, but your kids have also taught us so much. We are so touched by their willingness to step into the craziness with us and by y’all’s trust in us and in Moondance during this trip. Again, thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We hope you all have a spectacular rest of your summer!
Brad, James, and Camille
July 6, 2023
Hey guys! We are back and better than ever with another update for BCO C. We have enjoyed an action-packed past couple of days in the sunshine, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it!
After the conclusion of our trip section in Tofino, the group set out on day 8 for a travel day to Squamish! Everyone was super fired up to get back on a ferry, and this go round was even better than last time thanks to some unprecedented warmth and undeniable sunshine. The energy onboard was excited and positive as we explored the outer decks on all levels, enjoyed fries and soft serve, and took time for some much-needed rest as the ferry took us back to the mainland of Canada. The drive from Horseshoe Bay to Squamish was another breathtaking one, stunning us as we listened to the Arctic Monkeys and a few oldies classics, too! We especially had fun playing the name game as a group, during which we learned Luke knows the name of just about every past and present NBA and NFL player, and James took the dub not once but twice. (Ouch.) In what felt like no time, we arrived at our campsite in Squamish where we enjoyed the opportunity to cowboy camp under the trees. Our campsite was complete with a lengthy beach to the river, and we all headed down nearly immediately to hang out and enjoy the beginning of the sunset. We played a game of monkey in the middle with our soccer ball, during which Sammy learned that kicking harder maybe isn’t always better (especially when it involves repeatedly pelting Brad with the soccer ball), and we had a ton of fun just running around and goofing off together. Despite the freezing water in the river, (around 4° Celsius!) Kemmons led the group charge for a polar plunge into the water. We don’t know how he managed to stay under for so long, but everyone ended up going for the plunge and a little bit of a run immediately afterward to warm back up. We even had another round of “intern in the water” as the group put James back in as well! After returning to the campsite, we enjoyed a yummy stir fry dinner prepared on a beautiful granite table at our campsite. We didn’t ask questions about why it was there – we simply enjoyed it and had quite the laugh. Anna especially got a kick out of the table in the sand and said the phrase “BEAUTIFUL granite tabletop” about 20 times over the course of the night! Soon enough, as dark was falling, we went to sleep for a 2-day activity section that was up next for us.
When we woke up on day 9, everyone emerged from bed rested and ready for action. We efficiently packed up camp and headed out for our pre-whitewater rafting tradition: hot cakes at McDonald’s! We all enjoyed hanging out in downtown Squamish for a moment before heading to our outfitter to get on the river. The van was steeming with stoke as we pulled up to the outfitter, got packed into dry bags, and got our wetsuits on. Soon enough, we were loading the bus for the river and hopped out to see the beautiful Elaho River and start our two-day rafting section! Our amazing guides got us super excited for the day, giving us a preview of some of the rapids that were to come and teaching us all how to properly use the paddles and obey different rafting commands on the river. Both boats hit the river with gusto, paddle high fives all around, as we tore up the rapids as cohesive teams. Boat conversations included everything from Caroline’s passionate explanations about the Kardashians to Katherine’s detailed movie and TV show rankings to Eliza’s story about picking up a squirrel thinking it was her dog. As if we didn’t already have enough to keep us entertained! In the middle of the afternoon, we paused on a rocky beach for a snack of Clif bars and sweet tea in the view of an amazing glacier before chugging on through a section that had five rapids in a row! Everyone crushed it in their own unique ways – for those such as Andrew, that meant leading paddle counts for the boat, and for those such as Sammy, that included popping out of the boat to be their guide’s first ever swimmer! He was such a trooper and a good sport, and everyone got a kick out of his good spirits throughout the day (as always)! By early evening, we arrived at the island and changed into dry clothes to set up camp. We all marveled at the incredible mountainous views from camp and explored the island before feasting on an indescribable meal prepared by our guides: salmon, steak, potatoes, Caesar salad, and garlic bread! The night was even complete with our guides joining us for moonup where we all shared about our biggest role models and a blueberry crumble dessert. The river served as some amazing white noise as we drifted off to sleep for another day on the river!
Our second day on the river was a very special one: it was the Fourth of July! Everyone woke up absolutely STOKED about our #freedom despite being in Canada – we sported freedom necklaces and red, white, and blue attire, even getting our guides in on the necklace wearing, national anthem singing, and “USA” chanting! Our more chill day on the river came to an end with thanks to our guides and some fun viewing the photos of us in action! Then we hopped back into the van and headed to our new campsite to set up before starting our town day in Squamish! Squamish certainly has lots to explore, and we all enjoyed perusing the thrift stores, parks, and bakeries/cafés in town before making a group pit stop for ice cream. Everyone enjoyed some gelato from a local spot, complete with Josephine sampling just about every flavor in the store before ordering for the full experience. Soon thereafter, we headed back to camp to prepare an American-style burger and dog dinner to celebrate America’s birthday. We decorated camp with red, white, and blue banners and our flag, all sported patriotic glow sticks, and grilled up burgers and dogs complete with all the fixings (even bacon!) to munch on. Coupled with the most amazing watermelon and a plethora of drinks from the camp store, spirits were high as we toasted to our freedom and enjoyed being together.
We cannot believe our last activity section is underway. We can’t wait to tell you all about it, but that’s all for us from now! Talk soon!
Brad, James, and Camille
July 2, 2023
Good morning Moondance!! BCO 2C is back and better than ever with another trip update for you all. Our time together has been as exhilarating and fun as ever! We could not be more grateful for the roads that are back open to Tofino so we can enjoy our insane surfing and stand up paddleboarding (SUP) section.
Day 5 of our time together was, as the kiddos like to say, “a Van day! Yay!” As we traversed from Lake Comox to Tofino on the west side of Vancouver Island. The morning started with a yummy breakfast of scrambled eggs, Canadian sausages, and James’ specially-made hashbrowns. He won’t tell us what he does that makes them so great, but we can assure you that he is doing something right! The group enjoyed a few games of bocce ball all together, during which Kemmons showed us that maybe he is just good at every sport or activity he tries, and then we packed up and hit the road for the surfing capital of British Columbia. We were so excited by how high morale remained over the course of the long drive as we rocked out to country music and took in the absolutely ethereal views along the coast. Our journey also featured an exciting gas station stop and an even more engaging water-chugging competition. The winners celebrated their bounty by the means of 3 bathroom stops in the last hour alone. We arrived at our campsite in Tofino as the sun began to sink over the coast, and we joyfully greeted the BCO A group on the beach for an awesome game of beach soccer! Our team may not have taken the dub, but we were so proud of everyone’s tenacity and all of us just had the best time! Caroline was sheepish with us about her soccer abilities at first, but she was an absolute force to be reckoned with on defense and protected the goal like no other. On the flip side, Luke showcased his abilities as a forward, dodging the other team’s defense so smoothly and really coordinating our efforts on their goal side, and Josephine breasted up on the field and we had a lot of fun watching the friendly competition between herself and her sister. An all-star cook crew composed of Eliza, Luke, and Caroline concocted some of the best jambalaya, sausage, and veggies we have ever had the pleasure of tasting (and that’s saying something, coming from a leader team that LOVES some backcountry jambalaya)! We finished our day with a Moonup led by LODs Luke and Josephine and slept hard for a big day that awaited us.
The next morning, we all awoke bright-eyed and bushy tailed for a day of surfing and SUPping! It was a gift to bask in a little extra sleep and everyone hung out in hammocks as the leaders cooked breakfast sandwiches of bagels, eggs, cheese, and Canadian bacon for the group. Full of nutritious goodness and brimming with energy, we headed out to meet our first outfitter! The group changed into wetsuits and grabbed surfboards before heading down to the beach to warm up and learn the proper technique to shred the waves like a bunch of pros (maybe that’s a stretch, but the enthusiasm was definitely there). The beach showed out for us with some sizable waves and undeniable sunshine, and we had a ton of fun cheering for one another as we all tried our hand at surfing! Anna was the first to successfully stand up and ride a wave, but we also have a hunch Katherine and Sammy could pursue a career in surfing here pretty soon if they stick with it. After we hopped out of the water and enjoyed some lunch in the sun, we headed to another beach near our campsite for an afternoon of SUPping. The afternoon was quite windy, but our team did a great job of toughing it out! Everyone got on their paddle boards and began on their knees, and as they passed the first set of waves everyone was able to stand. After the first few hundred yards, our guides led us to a large kelp field next to some rocks to be protected from the wind. Leader James was able to find a starfish for the kids to observe and they really got a kick out of it. The next few minutes were spent looking through the kelp to find kelp crabs. The kids really enjoyed this activity, getting to see some BC wildlife and also enjoying some nice sunbathing. Afterward, we began to set across the bay into the wind, and this difficult task proved to be hilarious to all. As people paddled against the strong wind, some would fall into the water, much to their fellow students’ amusement. Finally, we ended with a bit of a swim and headed back to camp, tired from a great day full of activities. A dinner of chili Mac was prepared by cook crew Sammy, Anna, and Kyle as the friendly competition between ourselves and BCO A continued with a tent scramble. After dinner, the two groups joined forces for a silly nighttime activity of playing hairstylist – leaders James and Porter agreed to letting Camille give them mullets! Everyone was definitely skeptical at first, but as we finished up, Andrew captured it perfectly and said, “It actually looks pretty good!” We all had a ton of fun capturing footage of and just observing the process, and it was cool to get everyone involved. During Moonup, LODs Anna and Henry led our discussion about favorite Disney movies, and we went to bed in high spirits for another day of fun.
Day 7 began bright and early, everyone jumping out of their tents in anticipation of the second day of water activities. Today’s surfing featured some even bigger waves and a spirit of accomplishment as everyone was able to stand up on their boards! Eliza and Kyle even both enjoyed “party waves,” or surfing the same wave together! Henry, Kyle, and Andrew ventured out deeper to catch some of the more extreme waves. Leader James and Andrew may have shredded the gnar a bit too hard and ended up getting to visit the local Tofino hospital. (Everyone is okay though, and no broken bones!) In the afternoon we took to the paddle boards once again, making the best of the great weather. Our guides split everyone into 2 teams to compete in on the water challenges! The kids raced to fill a frisbee from the ocean, raced to destinations, had to form rafts and much more fun! Everyone was laughing as we fought the tough wind and fell many times. We ended with a great swim and frisbee throw. After our second day on the water, we packed up camp and headed into Tofino to check out the swanky downtown area! Everyone explored some local shops and scored a few souvenirs before we grabbed a lovely and filling dinner at a local fish fry and finished the day with more ice cream! Tonight, we are staying at our new campsite for the last night on Vancouver Island. We can’t wait to get moving back to the mainland tomorrow and kick off our next activity section!
We are so excited that we’ve had the opportunity to share all of our adventures with y’all so far! We can’t believe it’s already almost halfway over, and in honor of the first week of our time together coming to a close, here are some shoutouts from your kiddos!
Kyle: hi mom and dad we went surfing and paddle boarding today. I really enjoyed surfing and thought it would be a fun thing to do again. I miss you.
Luke: Hi mom and dad we went surfing and paddle boarding today it was a lot of fun. I look forward to seeing you guys soon. miss you.
Josephine: hi mom and dad! we went surfing and paddle boarding today. we’ve also done rock climbing. I miss you!
Kemmons: Hey mom, dad, and mark! I hope mom and mark had fun at the beach and I hope dad and Ava have fun in Canada. I’ll see you guys in about a week.
Sammy: Hi Mama and Papa! Love you guys so much! Canada has been so pretty and I got some awesome photos! Tell everybody I said “hi”, and tell Arch and Junebug I love them!
Henry: Hi mom and dad. I am having a very good time and I am so happy that I came. I miss you but at the same time I don’t wish I was home. I love surfing and rock climbing and I’ll tell you more when I’m home.
Katherine: Hey fam, I’m having a great time.It’s beautiful out here and away from the city, I’m taking lots of pics bc James lost the go-pro surfing. Also, can you please add some money to my green light card (souvenirs, showers, and ice cream are expensive!) Anyway, love and miss y’all kinda!!!
Caroline: Hey fam! Moondance is so much fun, especially van rides and ferry. Anyways, I’ve made lots of new friends and am surprisingly really enjoying the outdoors! Also, please add money to my green light card! I bought a Taylor swift card for y’all! Miss y’all lots! Please get me Chick-fil-A when I arrive home!
Eliza- hey fam! I’m having such a great time! I met so many fun people! I’m sitting with Anna right now. She’s so funny! Last night James got a mullet and to be honest it doesn’t look the best but it was really fun to watch! We’ve been surfing, rock climbing, and paddle boarding and it was so much fun! I miss y’all and Dr Pepper so much!
Anna- Hey fam! I am having such a fun time out in British Columbia! Eliza is a great person to sit next in the van! She’s hilarious! I really miss Otis( I know that he is already a bigger dog just in the week I left). Paddle boarding was a great time. MC and I totally need to go when I get back! I miss y’all so much!
Andrew- hi mom and dad I am having a great time out here I love and miss all of you especially Althea I went surfing and can’t wait to see you guys soon
That’s all from us for now! Talk soon and hang 10!
Brad, James, and Camille
June 29, 2023
Howdy, folks! Welcome to our trip updates for BCO 2C. Our group is 14 strong this session, and we have already managed to squeeze a ton of fun into just a few short days!
Our first day together was a little bit of a hectic one, but what would Moondance be without an exciting airport day full of snacks, card games, and icebreakers? As all our new best friends rolled into Sea-Tac, our group had a ton of fun cheering for every new arrival, gathering bags, and getting to know each other! As soon as everyone was in one place, we said goodbye to the baggage claim area and skedaddled outside to load our things into the van and the U-Haul. The first day of driving was full of introductions, jam sessions, and debates over Taylor Swift’s songwriting abilities. Needless to say, by the time we were setting up our tents for the first time, we had plenty to talk about. We enjoyed some swimming at our first campsite and cap stoned our huge first day with an inaugural Moonup and the selection of our first LODs: Eliza and Andrew!
Our first full day as a group was punctuated by widespread excitement over our border crossing. Everyone did amazing at the border, and we let out many a cheer as we rolled into Canada in the van-ada! Andrew impressed us greatly with his song requests, keeping morale up and eyes awake as he threw more and more classic rock into the queue. Almost immediately upon our arrival in beautiful British Columbia, we drove onto a ferry to cross over to Vancouver Island! Everyone enjoyed some soft serve on the boat and took in the ocean views as we continued getting to know one another. Later that night, we arrived at our first Canadian campsite to enjoy some build-your-own fancy ramen and had our first LOD-led Moonup! It was amazing to enjoy a sunset on the beach as we wound down from our huge travel day, and everyone hit the hay ready for a big day of activity to come!
On day 3, our first day of activities was met by some incredible weather! The sunny skies made the rocks pristine, and the entire group really enjoyed the day. We were all thoroughly impressed with Kemmons’ ability to climb. By the end of our time, our guides were coming up with games and challenges to make even the most difficult routes more applicable to his athletic prowess! Caroline did excellent as she faced her fears! She climbed outside for the first time ever (not once, but TWICE), got to the top of the rock, and was the first one to rappel. Katherine got nugs from everyone for her impressive ability to belay. She looked like a natural out there and was definitely a fan favorite when searching for a belay partner! After the group was tired out from the day of climbing, we all headed down to Lake Comox beach to enjoy a nice relaxing afternoon in the sun. Henry and Kyle showed their skills in spikeball, but still couldn’t defeat leaders Brad and James. Luke and Henry gave the pair a run for their money, thanks to Luke’s insane skills, but they still came up short. Results of a high stakes spikeball bet will be to come in the next update! Josephine and Anna were some of the best catchers in our group game of Jackpot in the water. A stellar first cook crew of Henry, Kyle, and Katherine made some immaculate pasta with ground beef! We sure had some fun sneaking zucchini and onion into the tomato sauce, and some of us learned that vegetables really aren’t too shabby. This incredible day was finished off by a beautiful sunset over the lake and Moonup, where we discussed the biggest pet peeves and celebrated an amazing first day of activity together. The group couldn’t wait to get back out on the rocks for the real gnarly stuff!
The excited energy on our second day of climbing was palpable as we met our outfitters in the morning. We spent all morning continuing to work on our climbing and rappelling skills, and by noon everyone had mastered a 70-foot rappel. Even the leaders got to get involved with the climbing, and we all had a ton of fun cheering each other on as we explored the three available routes! For lunch, the group hiked to an amazing cliff overhang of Lake Comox and enjoyed the view as we munched on some sandwich lunches. Lucky for us, the view at lunch was far from the highlight of the day. That afternoon, we got to beast up on Devil’s Ladder, an absolutely sick rappel to a platform over the lake followed by a climb back up to the top. Plenty of other hikers and boaters at the lake were happy to cheer us on, and Sammy was a highly encouraging force for everyone before he brought up the anchor on climbing. Eliza was a little nervous to rappel down at first, but as soon as she got started, she found her groove and absolutely demolished both the climb and the rappel! Our big day at Devil’s Ladder could have only ended one way: ice cream! We enjoyed a local stop in town before heading back to camp and going in on some tacos cheffed up by Andrew, Kemmons, and Josephine. Our beach Moonup for our last night at Lake Comox was a very special one, as we all shared a challenge in our lives we’ve overcome. We are going to bed tonight happy, fulfilled, and ready for what our next trip section brings!
On the flip,
Brad, James, and Camille
June 25, 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!