July 22, 2023
Greetings CAL A families!
We’ve had a whirlwind of the past two days and have so much to share! Our time on the American River has been absolutely AMAZING and we’ve made the sweetest memories together.
We arrived at Camp Lotus full of energy and ready to begin our rafting adventure! We prepared a delicious meal of gourmet chicken tenders and ended our first night on the river with Moonup and silly stories that made us giggle until we cried.
Our morning began a little slower than usual and we were able to get some much needed beauty rest! The smell of bacon and breakfast sandwiches made for a pleasant wake up call for our first EPIC day on the water! After breakfast and loading into the van with our water gear in tow, we met our wonderful guides at the All Outdoors facility. After introductions and an awesome water safety skit, we got suited up in life jackets and helmets and next thing we knew we were in our boats on the river!
The lower section of the South Fork of the American River had so much in store for us that kept us on our toes for the whole afternoon! We faced both class 2 and 3 rapids that had our whole crew whooping and cheering through each splash! Dyer and Marion absolutely dominated the rapids from the front of the boat and set the pace for their friends behind them. Our guides even let us get out to safely swim a class 2 rapid! Gray and Sawyer crushed their swim and loved it so much they wanted to swim every single chance they got! Our afternoon on the water would not have been near as fun if we didn’t have Caroline keeping everyone entertained and laughing by playing games of Big Booty.
Our first afternoon on the river came to an end all too soon, and we headed back to camp with big smiles and too many stories to count! Once everyone showered and got all clean and sparkly, Nora and Lauren hyped the crew up for an awesome game of volleyball! By the time the volleyball match ended, dinner was ready! A special treat that comes with rafting is meals prepared by our guides! The pesto pasta and steak was MAGNIFICENT and we went to bed stuffed and excited for the day to come!
The upper section of the South Fork was arguably even more exciting than the lower because of all the class 3 rapids that we conquered together. Our biggest rapid of the day was Trouble Maker, and despite its name, it was a highlight of our day! After our memorable section of fast whitewater, we entered a calmer section where our guides let some of the kids guide if they wanted to! John crushed this challenge and was shouting commands like a true pro! The calmer water also allowed for fun games like the paddle trust game! Vivian, Lila, and Jake kept the group playing games and giggling as we paddled our way to our takeout spot on the river!
We waved goodbye to All Outdoors and Camp Lotus and hit the road towards Point Reyes National Seashore. The drive in was beautiful and we were greeted with stunning weather at our campsite in Olema. Upon our arrival, Chef Henry stepped into the kitchen to assist with red sauce penne dinner served with yummy salad!
We are so grateful for all our amazing times together and can’t believe that there are only 3 days left! This group is absolutely AWESOME and our remaining days are going to be the best yet. Check back in soon!
Katherine, Ben, and Paige
Gray – To all of my siblings I can’t wait to hangout with you soon.
Jake-thanks mom and dad for signing me up I am so grateful .
Sawyer hey mom and dad I’m havin a lot of fun and Ben cooks very good meals. I rlly miss all of u I will see u guys soon
John-hi mom and dad I really miss you and can wait to see y’all soon
Henry – Hey mom, dad, Peter and Ivan I really miss you guys see you soon
Dyer- hey mom and dad I got A mullet and it looks great. I love moondance the food and people are cool love u.
Nora- Hey mom and dad! I am having so much fun, and I love my leaders. Love y’all!
Lauren hey mom dad and kaki I miss y’all and I’m having the best time ever!! Love yall!!
Marion- hey mom dad and Paul! I’m having the best time ever. I love my group and my leaders. miss y’all so much love y’all.
Vivian- hi mom dad evie ringo and scout! i am loving camp and all of the activities are so fun! i can’t wait to see you in a few days! love ya!
Lila hey mom dad ward ruth and ripken, i am having so much fun and i cant wait to see you guys
Caroline- Hey Mom, Dad, brothers and Mollie I am having so much fun here at camp and I miss y’all so much!
July 20, 2023
Greetings, California families!
It’s been a while since our last update, and we’ve had an incredible time filled with exciting adventures and unforgettable experiences! From rock climbing and exploring Yosemite Valley to basking in the sun of Lake Tahoe while kayaking and paddle boarding, we’ve been living life to the fullest!
After our breathtaking hike up Vernal Falls in Yosemite, we met up with our wonderful rock climbing guides at the Yosemite Mountaineering School. With climbing shoes, harnesses, and helmets on, we were all set to conquer Slab cliffs. Vivian and Dyer were quick to impress, showcasing their skills by rappelling down the wall. Henry and Jake followed, moving down the wall with stealthy grace. Marion received great support from her friend Vivian as they rappelled down together.
Once we learned the basics of rappelling and climbing techniques, we split into smaller groups to belay each other. Sawyer cheered on John as he tackled his first route, and Marion, Caroline, and Lila took turns encouraging and climbing the toughest route along the rock face’s crack. Gray conquered his fear of heights and scaled the super challenging high route. Everyone pushed themselves to reach new heights and overcome their fears! We wrapped up the day with a well-deserved dip in the lake, followed by a delicious dinner of guacamole, cowboy caviar, and chicken tacos. After an early bedtime, we were ready for another exciting day ahead.
The kids woke up early, beaming with enthusiasm for their second day of climbing. We returned to Yosemite, where our guides led us to scale the magnificent granite walls. Yosemite is the ultimate rock climbing destination, steeped in climbing history, which fascinated the kids. Today’s focus was crack climbing, and Henry, John, and Dyer aced the technique, scaling an impressive 80-foot rock face! Caroline, Sawyer, and Lila engaged in a timed climbing competition, with Lila emerging victorious in just 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Nora, Vivian, Marion, and Lauren challenged themselves by attempting multiple routes. After a long day of climbing, we sought out a beautiful river in the heart of Yosemite, with Yosemite Falls in the backdrop. The kids wasted no time jumping into the chilly water. Laughter and fun ensued, with everyone splashing around, cooling off, and enjoying the amazing setting. We even formed a human pyramid for the perfect group photo. Back at camp, we ended the day with a lively dance party!
Next up, we embarked on a long car ride to Lake Tahoe, ensuring our energy levels were high with a big breakfast. Arriving at Emerald Bay State Park, we were treated to stunning views of the bright blue waters and snowy mountains. After setting up camp and everyone putting up their Enos, we ventured on a trail that led us to a breathtaking overlook, where we played the infamous Moondance game “Big Booty” and had a blast. The evening gifted us with a mesmerizing sunset that we all had to stop eating dinner and go enjoy together.
The following day, we headed to the lake for a kayaking adventure, guided by fantastic instructors. We raced, played games, and soaked in the beauty of Lake Tahoe while learning interesting facts about its history. After enjoying lunch on the beach, we couldn’t resist returning to the water for some more fun and games. Later, we stopped at a laundromat to freshen up our clothes and treated ourselves to coke and cherry slushies. The surprises continued with pizza on a secret beach called “Hidden Beach” on the Nevada side of the lake. The kids couldn’t wait to jump off the perfect jumping rocks we discovered during the previous session. The stunning sunset added to the magic of the day, making it an experience the kids will cherish for a long time. Singing all the way back, we ended the day on a high note.
We are having an absolute blast and can’t believe we’re halfway through our journey. This group is extraordinary, and we wish this trip could go on forever!
Ben, Kat, and Paige
July 15, 2023
Dear California families and friends,
What an amazing start to our adventure in California! It feels like we’ve been together for ages, even though it’s only been a few days. From the moment we arrived in San Francisco, we’ve been building memories and forming incredible friendships.Our journey began with a scenic drive from SFO straight to Half Moon Bay, where we set up camp for our first night. The Moondance van and the U-Haul duo (named Phoebe and Ferb by our group) transported us with a touch of magic, while Caroline broke the ice with hilarious questions that kept us laughing the whole way. Once we reached Francis Beach, John and Sawyer took charge and guided us in pitching our tents.
With camp set up, we headed to the beach for group games and soccer. Sawyer, Henry, Gray, and Jake fully embraced the Moondance spirit, diving fearlessly into the chilly Pacific Ocean. The beautiful Half Moon Bay beach provided the perfect backdrop for us to get to know each other better. We wrapped up the day with a local pizza dinner, Oreos, and content smiles as we settled into our tents for a good night’s sleep.
The following morning, we wasted no time and packed up camp early to make our way to Pacifica for an exciting surfing lesson. Our enthusiastic surfing guides greeted us, fueling our excitement for a day of riding the waves. Lauren and Henry showed incredible talent, mastering the art of surfing right from the start. Dyer’s infectious enthusiasm shone through as he fearlessly wiped out, always resurfacing with a smile. Marion glided across the waves with grace, relentlessly chasing the perfect ride. Vivian took a bit longer to find her rhythm, but once she did, she conquered the waves with confidence. While the kids reveled in the water, we were amazed to see our remarkable CEO and leader, Hayes Hitchens, join us all the way from HQ to witness their surfing adventures. The children were thrilled to meet him and experience the magic of Moondance firsthand. After bidding farewell to Hayes, we changed into dry clothes and treated ourselves to a quick snack from the Taco Bell conveniently located in the surfing parking lot.
We then embarked on a five-hour drive through the beautiful California landscapes, engaging in games and singing along to our favorite tunes. Finally, we arrived at Bass Lake, where Nora and Dyer took the lead as the first leaders of the day, ensuring a smooth transition into our new campsite. Following a satisfying dinner and a Moonup, we turned in early, preparing for an exciting day ahead in Yosemite National Park. The next morning greeted us with clear skies and a sense of adventure as we entered Yosemite. The sight of El Capitan, Half Dome, and all the majestic waterfalls took our breath away. This summer, the kids are fortunate to witness historic snowfall, resulting in record-breaking waterfalls that fill the park with their roaring beauty. We found parking and embarked on the stunning Mist Trail hike, with Lauren and Lila leading the charge and boosting everyone’s spirits. The six-mile hike took us through awe-inspiring scenery, including the famous marble steps, where we were treated to the refreshing mist that gives the trail its name. To top it all off, we were surprised with the sight of a breathtaking waterfall and a double rainbow. After enjoying the views, indulging in a satisfying lunch, and taking some well-deserved rest, we pushed on for a few more miles, amazed at the group’s energy. John engaged the group with fun history facts about Yosemite. Returning to our campsite, we cooled off in the pool before an early dinner and bedtime, as we had another early morning ahead for an incredible day of rock climbing in Yosemite.The trip has been nothing short of extraordinary so far, and we eagerly anticipate what lies ahead. Our hearts are filled with joy, and we can’t wait to create more unforgettable memories together!All the best,Ben, Paige, and Kat
July 12, 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!