July 9, 2023
We are filled with a mix of emotions as we write this final update. It’s hard to believe that our incredible journey has come to an end. We are devastated to say goodbye to these wonderful kids, but at the same time, we are overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for the past two weeks. This group was truly special, and it’s safe to say that lifelong bonds were formed, and unforgettable moments were created.
Since our last update, we have had an absolute blast! After our unforgettable Fourth of July celebration, we woke up to a picture-perfect morning in Tahoe, ready for an amazing day on the lake. Our destination was Kings Beach, where we were greeted by mesmerizing blue waters and a fleet of kayaks waiting to be paddled. Each of us paired up in tandem kayaks and embarked on a guided tour of the lake. Our knowledgeable guide shared the rich history of Tahoe and emphasized the importance of “Keeping Tahoe Blue.” Adding to the excitement, a game of frisbee was organized, challenging the kids to pass the frisbees between kayaks. AC and Jane displayed impressive skills and had a great time. We then enjoyed a delightful beachside lunch, with everyone soaking up the sun. Some of the kids played skip ball in the water (Lois, Lucy C, and Lydia), while others skipped rocks on the shore (French, Quinn, and William). After reboarding our kayaks, we ventured another mile along the stunning Tahoe coast, allowing everyone to experience the refreshing waters of the lake. As the day wound down, we made a necessary stop at the laundromat to give our clothes a quick wash. Next door, at the 7/11, we treated ourselves to refreshing Coke Icees to beat the heat and make the most of our time. But our surprises for the kids didn’t end with the Fourth of July ice cream. We decided to surprise them with pizza on the beach and a swim in the majestic Lake Tahoe. So, we picked up pizza and embarked on a drive to Nevada, where we stumbled upon “Hidden Beach.” This stunning beach on the Nevada side of Tahoe, with its massive rocks and crystal-clear water, left us all in awe. It was an extra special moment for Ben, who was thrilled to have crossed another state off his list. After eating our delicious pizza on the beach, the kids couldn’t wait to dive into the water. They eagerly swam out to the large rocks, where they safely went cliff-jumping and spent hours laughing, playing, and sharing stories. We ended the night on a perfect note with a Moonup on the rocks, marveling at the incredible sunset. It was a night that will forever be in our memories, and the kids unanimously agreed that it was their favorite memory of the trip. We returned to our beautiful campsite for a well-deserved night of rest.
Early the next morning, we greeted another beautiful day on the lake, this time trying our hand at stand up paddleboarding. As we paddled out to the middle of the lake, we were surrounded by breathtaking beauty. The boys, accompanied by Paige, ventured out far, enjoying their time swimming, while the girls soaked up the sun. After our paddle boarding session, we prepared for our final long car ride, heading to our campsite in Point Reyes. Along the way, we engaged in a few games, keeping the fun alive, and ended the day with Chicken, Mozzarella, and Pesto Paninis for dinner. The following day, we made our way to Half Moon Bay for our grand finale. The kids had an absolute blast participating in an exciting Iron Chef-inspired challenge. Armed with leftover ingredients, they had 45 minutes to create their lunch masterpieces. Ben, Lydia, Lois, Lucy M, Lucy C, and Anna Day put together a delectable charcuterie board, chicken Alfredo, and chocolate-covered nutter butters. Meanwhile, AC, Jane, Liza, French, William, and Quinn prepared Candied Bacon, Peach Cobbler, and Sausage Rolls. The team that crafted the Alfredo dish emerged as the clear winner, but all the kids showcased impressive culinary skills and creativity. With everything packed up and the campsite cleaned, we headed to Pacifica for a surprise celebration in honor of Quinn’s birthday. We all indulged in scrumptious ice cream at Coldstone and continued the fun by playing at a nearby park. The festivities continued as we gathered at Salvation Army, where we kicked off our Banquet Dinner. All the kids chose goofy outfits, adding an extra layer of joy and laughter to the evening. As we sat down for dinner, we made sure to choose a place that served wings for Quinn’s birthday. Amidst great conversation and discussions about our favorite trip memories, we sadly had to wrap up the fun and return to our campsite for a final Moonup. The night was filled with sharing our most cherished moments and celebrating Quinn’s birthday with a special cake.
In conclusion, this trip has been an extraordinary adventure for all of us. We have witnessed the growth of friendships, the thrill of shared adventures, and the creation of memories that will be cherished forever. We feel incredibly grateful to have been part of this journey and to have shared it with such a remarkable group of young individuals. As their leaders, we hope they return home with hearts full of joy, lifelong friendships, and unforgettable memories.
Nugs and Love,
Ben, Kat, and Paige
July 5, 2023
Hello California families!
Since we last spoke, our time together in Yosemite has been nothing short of magical! Our rock-climbing adventure was absolutely unforgettable, and our crew tackled the cliffs with impressive skill.Our first morning of climbing kicked off with a quick breakfast, followed by a scenic drive into the park. The excitement was amazing as we blasted music through the iconic tunnel leading into the valley, catching glimpses of El Capitan and Half Dome.
Upon arriving at the Yosemite Mountaineering School, we met our fantastic guides, Josh and Camden, who equipped us with the necessary gear before heading towards the cliffs that awaited our conquering. Josh and Camden got us pumped with tales of Yosemite’s climbing history, further fueling our enthusiasm to be in the birthplace of this exhilarating sport. Before long, we were mastering techniques such as belaying, bouldering, and rappelling, while honing our climbing skills. We embarked on a hike to our rappelling spot, treated to breathtaking views of the park. As always, Quinn and William fearlessly led the way, descending the rock face like seasoned professionals. Ben followed suit, matching their infectious energy. Although Lucy M and Jane initially felt some nerves, with support from the rest of the group, they overcame their apprehensions and descended with impressive skill.
After learning the basics of rappelling, the kids were filled with excitement as they embarked on their climbing journey. Yosemite, renowned for its granite cliffs, provided the perfect backdrop for their first climbing experience. AC and Anna Day demonstrated impressive speed as they scaled the granite walls in the blink of an eye. The entire group had an amazing time and eagerly anticipated another day of climbing. Once our long day of climbing came to an end, the kids eagerly sought a refreshing swim in the lake.
Upon our return to the campsite, the kids discovered their very own “private beach.” Lucy C and Lois wasted no time and dove into the water, with everyone else soon following suit. The kids relaxed in the cool water and engaged in playful games. As night fell, we enjoyed a satisfying pasta dinner and much-needed rest to replenish our energy for the next day of climbing.
The following day, we once again rose early to embark on our journey into the park. Despite their tiredness, the kids maintained remarkable attitudes and were eager for another beautiful day in Yosemite. We reunited with our guides, this time at a more challenging rock face. The kids were thrilled to put their newly acquired climbing skills to the test. Although French couldn’t climb that day, he remained everyone’s cheerleader from the bottom, displaying an admirable attitude. Lydia and Liza led the way, conquering the routes with exceptional skill. These routes posed a considerable challenge, but the kids rose to the occasion. Ben and counselor Ben engaged in a friendly race up the granite rock, with Ben Beard emerging victorious by a few seconds.
Exhausted from the day’s climbing, the group mustered just enough energy for one more sightseeing adventure. We ventured to the renowned Yosemite Falls base, where we were greeted with the awe-inspiring sight of the roaring falls. The timing of our visit couldn’t have been more perfect, as Yosemite Falls would typically be dried up by this point in the season. We captured memorable photos in front of the falls before returning to camp for another swim at our beloved “private beach.”
Today, we enjoyed a much-needed late start as it marked our travel day to Lake Tahoe. The kids embraced the spirit of the Fourth of July, dressing up in red, white, and blue attire, preparing for a five-hour drive to the stunning Lake Tahoe. Upon arrival, we settled into our beautiful campsite along the river and indulged in a traditional Fourth of July feast, featuring hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, and watermelon. The kids were in for an amazing surprise as we all piled into the van and made our way to Tahoe Village. To their surprise, we treated them to ice cream and, to top it off, a mesmerizing drone show of fireworks on the lake. Due to fire hazards, traditional fireworks were prohibited, but we were fortunate to witness an incredible display performed by drones hovering above the water.
Overall, the past few days have been nothing short of amazing, and our Fourth of July celebration was truly unforgettable. We are thoroughly enjoying our time with this remarkable group and can hardly believe that we only have a few days remaining. Saying goodbye will be difficult for all of us!
-Ben, Kat, and Paige
Here are a few Thank You’s from the Kids!
Quinn – What’s up mom and dad thank you so much for letting me go on the amazing trip. I’m having so much fun, and I can’t wait to go back again.
Ben – Gracias mi madre y mi padre por Enviándome en este viaje. Te echo mucho de menos.
French- Yo thanks for letting me go on this amazing adventure, I am having the time of my life!
William- What’s up mom and dad thank you so much for letting me go on the amazing trip. I’m having so much fun and I can’t wait to go back again. Love you so much!
Jane- Thank you so much for letting me go on this amazing trip!!! I’m having the best time ever!!! Can’t wait to see you when I get home!!!!
Lucy- Thank y’all so much! California is so much fun!! I never want to leave bye love y’all.
Lydia- What up thank y’all so much for moondance! It is so much fun! I’m having the best time ever! love y’all!
Lucy – Thank y’all so much for Cali!! It is so fun love y’all!!
Liza- thank you so much for sending me here! I’m having so much fun love y’all see you soon!!
Ac- Hi mom and dad I miss you so much and thank you so much for letting me come on this trip!! I miss you and cant wait to see y’all soon !
Anna day- Hi mom and dad I miss y’all a lot but thank you so much for sending me on the trip! I’m having so much fun! Love and miss y’all can wait to see you!
Lois- Hey mom and dad I’m having a lot of fun right now. Thank you for sending me on this!! I don’t want to come home, I just miss my bed. I love y’all so much!!!!!!!!
July 2, 2023
Hello California families!
We’ve had quite the adventure in the past few days since we last caught up! Our group left off on our travel day to Camp Lotus where we would begin the rafting section of our trip. We started our day with a big pancake breakfast on the coast and packed up our fabulous van and uhaul team (Phoebe and Ferb) and hit the road! Lotus greeted us with clear blue skies and warm temperatures that made us run straight for the river upon our arrival! After our chilly swimming experience in Pacifica, it was an exciting change to want to jump in the beautiful American River to cool off!
The group spent the rest of the afternoon playing games around camp, including spike ball, volleyball, and friendship bracelet making! Liza and Anne Caroline started a group wide spike ball tournament that had everyone cheering on their new friends to victory! We have so enjoyed our time together outside of our amazing activities because it gives us even more time to bond and get to know each other well! Our crew is full of aspiring chefs, and Lydia was an excellent sous chef in the kitchen helping prepare some DELICIOUS chicken gyros that we ate along the banks of the peaceful river. We closed out our amazing day with a meaningful Moonup led by French and Jane and where we discussed our greatest role models!
Full of energy and excitement for the day ahead, we rose bright and early to prepare for our first day of white water rafting! Our leaders of the day took charge in the camp kitchen preparing yummy breakfast burritos for our team to fuel for all our strong paddles ahead. All sunscreened up and ready to rock and roll, we met our guides at the rafting center and grabbed our gear! Between the three boats on the river, it is still unclear who had the most fun because each raft was spilling over with giggles and screams of excitement going down each rapid. Lucy C. And Lucy M. showed us all their new tricks with a challenge given by our guides on the raft by only holding on with their connected paddles! Our afternoon on the water came to a close all too quickly and we made our way back to camp lotus for showers and a wonderful meal prepared by our guides! With full bellies and smiles, our crew hit the hay to get some well earned rest.
Just when we thought that rafting couldn’t get any better, our second day on the river was even more exciting than the first! Reason number 1 being we had a birthday to celebrate! HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY JANE!!! The upper section of the American River had back to back class 3 rapids in store for us and the birthday girl, Jane, loved every single one of them! Our time on the river singing songs and playing games was over all too soon, but our next location was calling!
After an exciting morning of rafting, we again loaded up in the magical Moondance van and headed out toward the breathtaking Yosemite National Park. Ben kept everyone entertained the whole way with endless icebreaker questions and silly conversations! The winding mountain drive was stunning and offered views that had everyone in the van speechless! We concluded our busy day with a tasty tortellini dinner and birthday cake!
An early wake up call got our group up moving and grooving with the sun to make our way into the famous national park for a hike ! William and Quinn quickly took the lead to find our trail head up to the mystical Nevada Falls! We trekked up 600 granite stairs and were showered with fresh mountain water on our way up making for a fun and splashy experience! The hard work our team displayed was just as impressive as the views from the top and we are so proud of everyone for their awesome attitudes and efforts! We sat above the rushing waterfall and ate lunch as a team in the sunshine chatting about our newest accomplishment together! Lois and Anna Day rallied our team to continue down the trail and find our way back into the valley! Not only is it a gift to be in Yosemite during a record year for waterfalls, but it is a gift to experience this once in a lifetime visit with your students!
Signing off for now!
Katherine, Paige, and Ben
Hey y’all! Having so much fun in CALI! Lucy hasn’t gotten burnt
Hey E and Dad having the best time! Love y’all!
William Hey I’m having a great time and I haven’t gotten sunburnt yet.
French yo wuddup, I miss y’all so much and I’m having the time of my life!
Hey mom and dad I am having a very awesome time with everyone and my favorite part so far was surfing.
Hey Mom and Dad, I’m having a great time, the weather is great and I miss y’all so much.
Hey mom and dad, I’m having so much fun!! Miss y’all and love yall
Hi I’m having so much fun! Love and miss y’all so much
Hey having lots of fun! Miss and love y’all!
Hey, having the best time in California!!!!!! Miss you and can’t wait to see you soon!!!!!
Hey y’all I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see you soon! I love y’all so much!
Hey having so much fun! Miss y’all!
June 28, 2023
We are absolutely thrilled to share with you the incredible experiences we’ve had during our adventure in beautiful California. It’s hard to believe that only two days have passed since our journey began! Our airport day was a success, and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know your amazing kiddos. Everything went incredibly smoothly, and after our introductions, we set off for our first campsite.
Our drive to Half Moon Bay was short taking us only thirty minutes. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the breathtaking Sweetwood campsite, nestled on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. With a quick lesson on setting up tents, the kids eagerly embraced their responsibilities and then wasted no time sprinting towards the beach.
Enthusiastically, French, Quinn, and William embodied the spirit of Moondance and dashed straight into the Pacific Ocean. While they were busy catching waves, the rest of the group stayed warm on the beach, engaging in a game of volleyball. Eventually, we made our way back to the campsite, where we all gathered for a pizza feast.To cap off an eventful day, we held our first Moonup. Every night, Moonup serves as a special time for us to come together, reflect on our experiences, and answer a thought-provoking question posed by our Leaders of The Day. For this initial Moonup, Quinn and Lucy Mitchell assumed the role of leaders. After sharing our thoughts, we prepared for a well-deserved night of rest in our cozy tents.
The following day, we rose bright and early, ready for an exciting day of surfing. To fuel ourselves for the adventure ahead, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of muffins and fresh fruit before hitting the road to Pacifica. Despite the chilly weather, the kids displayed remarkable attitudes and tackled the task of putting on their wetsuits like true champions.
Upon reaching our destination, we were introduced to our exceptional surfing guides. Gathering on the sandy shore, we received a lesson on the basics of surfing, including paddling, balance, and standing up on the board. Eager to put their newfound knowledge into action, we ventured into the Pacific waters and began catching waves.
Quinn demonstrated incredible enthusiasm, being the first to dive into the water and the first to successfully stand up on the board! Lois and French displayed innate talent as they effortlessly rode the waves, looking like skilled surfers. Their impressive skills were on full display as they conquered wave after wave. We concluded our surfing session for the day and changed into warm attire for lunch back at the campsite.
Following our meal, we engaged in various crafts and games. Ben, William, and Quinn engaged in an exhilarating game of Spike Ball, while Lucy C, Liza, and Jane took the lead in making friendship bracelets with the string they discovered. Lydia and Liza organized another thrilling round of Spike Ball . All the kids found a great spot for their Eno hammocks, where they chatted, laughed, and bonded, sharing stories, and making memories.
As the day progressed, we prepared for our first proper dinner, a delightful feast of Burrito Bowls. Jane and Lucy M showcased their culinary skills by preparing an incredible homemade Guacamole, which added a delicious touch to our meal. After the meal we wrapped up the day early, as everyone was thoroughly exhausted from the exhilarating surf sessions.
We eagerly rose early once again, ready to embark on another fantastic day of surfing. Surprisingly, the temperature had dropped even further compared to the previous day. Despite the cold there were zero complaints from the kids. Their enthusiasm to put their surfing skills to the test was truly inspiring. Returning to the same beach, we were greeted by fantastic waves. Anna Day couldn’t wait to dive into the water and ride the waves.
Ben and William also showcased their remarkable progress, successfully catching and riding some impressive waves. The entire group amazed us with their rapid pickup of surfing skills within just two days.
After our surfing session, we returned to the campsite for a well-deserved lunch, preparing ourselves for an exciting day exploring San Francisco. Considering the lingering chill from our morning surf, we decided that a driving tour would be the best way to experience the city. Our first destination was the iconic Haight Ashbury district, renowned for its historic significance and hippie stores. The girls were particularly thrilled to visit the Aviator Nation store. Additionally, we went into some intriguing thrift stores, with the Grateful Dead store proving to be a favorite among the group. Quinn couldn’t contain his excitement as he acquired an Ecuadorian poncho.
Continuing our adventure, we proceeded to the famous Painted Ladies, known for their appearance in the beloved ’90s sitcom Full House. Anne Caroline couldn’t contain her enthusiasm, capturing every moment with her camera. En route to the Golden Gate Bridge, we cruised past the renowned Lombard Street, singing the entire way.
We drove to the Sausalito side, where we had some great photo opportunities, capturing memories with the bridge in the background. Our final stop brought us to the Golden Gate Gift Shop, where we found some great souvenirs.
We had one more delightful surprise in store for the kids. We decided to go to In-N-Out Burger, where the kids enjoyed delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes. We made our way back to the camp, concluding this remarkable day with a memorable Moonup session. The laughter and memories shared among the kids was a testament to the incredible bond forming within our group. We can’t wait for the remaining chapters of our extraordinary journey together.
Ben, Katherine, and Paige
June 25, 2023
Hello California Families!
We just heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in San Francisco! 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!