July 25, 2023
And that’s a wrap! We are truly in disbelief that this amazing group is already in flight back home. It has been such a joy to be a part of your children’s lives for the past few weeks and BOY was it hard to see them go. We are so grateful for the past few days of even more fun to close out this session, so let’s recap!
After a cozy night of “cowboy camping” without tents under the stars, we rolled out of our sleeping bags to fuel up on a protein-packed breakfast before exploring Point Reyes. The group ate eggs, bacon, sausage, and oatmeal while enjoying a slow morning. We packed up camp and set out to see this famous oceanside town that the group had heard so much about.
As we headed out to our first stop at the Point Reyes lighthouse, we were greeted by the rolling fog coating California’s jagged coastline of cliffs and breathtaking beaches. The van fell into a rare moment of quiet as everyone took in the spectacular view. We also saw quite a few herds of cows along the drive, even stopping to talk to a few! Porter was so kind as to supply the van with cattle fun facts as we drove past, with some needing the distinction between male and female cows. Once we made it to the coast’s point, we filed out of the van into the chilly fog, ready to take on the lighthouse hike. Patrick and James led the boys in a jog all the way down the mile trail to the lighthouse, including a flight of 300 stairs! The girls didn’t let the boys overtake them though, as this jogging venture was trailed closely by Anneliese’s quick feet. The view from the small lighthouse was well worth the sweat. It’s a quaint building nestled among the rocks of a peninsular cliff, creating a stunning view of the water below. After taking it all in, it was time for a mad dash back up all of the stairs and another sprint back to the van! A little winded, we drove to Drake’s Beach, the perfect spot for a picnic with a view of the ocean.
The crew enjoyed a full spread of snacks and sandwiches as we looked on at the coast and wandered into the sand. A few poked around in the gift shop, finding all things like root beer and new stickers. George took the time to read every plaque in the small museum, and he came back to the group with a full history lesson to report. Satisfied with the picnic, we admired the view and jammed to music on the way back out of Point Reyes. With a quick pit stop to take our last showers and pick up our gear, we headed into San Francisco! Our first stop was to visit the famous Ghirardelli Square. Clara bought a chocolate square straight from the original source, as we walked around the area filled with delicious sweets and souvenir shops. After becoming acquainted with the streets of San Francisco, we made a surprise stop at Mel’s Drive-in for dinner. This meal provided the perfect atmosphere and food for a meal well-shared, including kid’s meals served in paper car models. Ellis even bought a new T-shirt to remember her time at the dinner! Fueled up and satisfied after a long day, we settled into our newest and final campsite at Half Moon Bay. With the sound of the ocean in the background, we set up our tents in the lush grass and held Moonup. Everyone shared many laughs, gratitude, and their favorite memories from the trip so far. Then it was time for bed, as everyone needed to rest up to prepare for our last day together!
The sun rose and the fog rolled in for our last full day of camp as the group arose to a full breakfast of pancakes, bacon, the works! We enjoyed our breakfast with waves crashing in the background, then hit the road for sailing. At the docks, we met our Captain Efe who introduced us to the 50 ft racing boat we would be cruising. Soon enough we left the docks and sailed straight into the San Francisco Bay. The views were spectacular as the fog rolled over the hills, the sun shone across the water, and the Golden Gate Bridge appeared in the distance. The kids loved feeling the wind and seeing Alcatraz and the bridge up close. Sailing so close to Alcatraz brought up many questions about the island as we shared some history about the prison including dates and it’s origin. As we sailed along we even had a few that got to steer the boat for us! Ethan confidently sailed us away from the oncoming cruise ship we saw in the distance, taking the wheel with conviction. We had a special boat lunch with turkey wraps, fresh fruit, and even some chicken tenders. As the wind calmed down and the sun warmed our bodies we enjoyed the relaxing sway of the sailboat as we sailed back to the dock.
After hearing the raving reviews about sailing we piled into the van once more. No one knew about the surprise that was upon us until we pulled up to the Goodwill blasting Macklemore’s ‘Thrift shop.’ The group was thrilled to go and shop for their banquet outfits, working to find the craziest item on the rack. We even had a an important theme that some of the girls followed for Clara’s wedding to Ross Lynch, played by our very own Banks. Clara said yes to the wedding dress after trying on a few to see if the fit was right, and she even found some bride sunglasses to complete her outfit. Claire bought the perfect outfit to serve as the wedding planner, wearing a pair of high heels and an elegant silk dress through the campsite. The heels even made an appearance here at delta baggage claim during our early airport morning. The wedding made for a memorable night and was officiated by Anneliese who wrote a script for the vows. The two shared a first dance as the crowd cheered.
After everyone found the perfect attire, we made our way to the car wash to give some love to our beloved van. We have put many miles on it this summer and it was time to give it the care it deserves. Porter and Patrick helped scrub and afterwards we vacuumed until it was spotless. We had one final van ride back to our campsite and upon arrival we had a surprise tie-dye party! Once everyone had packed up and cleaned up camp for the final time we got dressed in our outfits and took a few group photos before hopping in the van for the last supper. We chose a Mexican restaurant, where Rowan and Lila decided to take the American food route on the menu ordering a cheeseburger and grilled cheese, delighted with their choices.
We enjoyed one final dinner together sharing many laughs and recounting the memories over the past two weeks. After everyone was stuffed, we arrived at the campsite and gathered around with the other California groups for an epic dance party. We had a surplus of glow sticks and good music which made for an awesome celebration. After exhausting ourselves and running out of dance moves, we gathered around a ring of glow sticks for one final Moonup. We shared our gratitude for this special group and the characteristics of Moondance that we want to bring back with us to our hometowns. This group’s bond is truly special, and it was a pleasure to watch them grow and build meaningful relationships throughout their time together. They made new friendships that are sure to last throughout the school year and memories that I hope they will never forget.
As leaders we feel especially lucky to have ended our summer on such a high note with an incredible group. Thank you for sharing your children with us for the past two weeks. Every one of them is a special individual who we know will continue to contribute wonderful things to this world.
We hope everyone has safe travels home and a restful end to the summer, please keep in touch and know we will miss you all!
Signing off one final time from California,
Eleanor, Alli, and Andrew
July 23, 2023
Hi again from Cal C! White water rafting is now in the books! It is hard to believe how fast this trip has flown. We could not be luckier to have this awesome group that loves each other so much. Each adventure has been exciting and brought so many laughs and new memories.
We arrived at our rafting campsite to sunshine and temperatures of about 100 degrees. After unloading and setting up our tents we cooked a delicious dinner of chicken sandwiches and Caesar salad. It was a crowd favorite of the trip so far. Once everyone was stuffed, we gathered around for Moonup. We shared laughs as everyone discussed what superhero power they would want, and Ethan was especially enthusiastic about the possibility of telekinesis. After a fun day in Lake Tahoe and a day of travel, everyone was ready for some well-deserved sleep.
We had a relaxing morning with plenty of time for a filling breakfast of eggs, sausage, and English muffins. We had some creative breakfast sandwiches made, and mini cinnamon rolls on the side. Once everyone was in their suits and ready to go, we made the short drive to the river center. After yet another parking lot dance party and intense sunscreen application we got our gear for rafting. We got fitted in PFD’s and paddles, heard a safety briefing, and met our awesome guides Mary and Shay who were eager to lead us down the river.
For our first day of rafting, we split into two rafts: one boys and one girls, which made for a friendly splashing competition throughout the day. We started off the day strong with a polar plunge to test the water temperatures, Patrick was the brave soul who jumped in first, embracing the chilly water on such a hot day. We made our way down the river, singing songs and coming up with team names. The girls coined the name the “Rappettes,” combining the grace and synchronization of the Rockettes with the rapids. Clara led the group in several versions of Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” while Banks was a lead vocalist in several songs by Taylor Swift. “Our song” was our boat’s favorite – we sang it three times! Annaelise was the raft greeter, being her friendly self and saying “hello friends” to every nearby raft. We even had the chance to splash them for practice! Meanwhile, on the boys’ boat, the group coined “The Super Splash Bros” enjoyed powering through the rapids minus the Taylor Swift tunes.
After a morning full of fun paddling, we pulled off to the side of the river to break for lunch. Our raft guides prepared a delicious array of sandwich fixings and bread for us along with chips, vegetables, and hummus. Once we were full, we continued down the river to try out some of the intense class III rapids. Although these were more challenging rapids our teams had no issues as they worked together to paddle through this white water. It was an eventful afternoon filled with fast whitewater and once we were finished everyone was already looking forward to day two. Once we got back to camp the heat was rising and we couldn’t get enough of the river so we went back in for one more dip as a group. Ellis and Claire continued to play mermaids, swimming through the river and showing off their best ‘tail flips.’
Once we were waterlogged we made our way out of the river for some dinner provided by our wonderful outfitters. We had a feast of steak, chicken, pasta, and warm brownies to finish. It is safe to say this dinner was a hit. After dinner we had to introduce the group to one of our favorite games ‘blazo,’ a version of tug-of-war played while balancing on boxes. It was winner takes all and Ellis was a seasoned pro, holding her spot as queen for several rounds. After several rounds, we finished the night off with one more game of volleyball where Lila showed off her skills at the net and carried her team. Exhausted from all the activity, we crawled into bed to rest up for another day of rafting.
Day two of rafting started early and strong, with a full breakfast from our outfitters! Then we packed up camp and headed back to the waters. George brought the energy to the newest class three rapids, excitedly splashing through each new set of waves. On a few swim breaks, Rowan proved to the boat that she could heave herself back into the raft with no help! It might sound like a simple task but it requires a ton of muscle, most need a little boost. Today on the northern side of the river, we stopped on the riverbank at a new spot for lunch before floating down the rest of the way back to our outfitters. Then it was time to rinse off and load up for the next campsite! We set up camp down the road from our next destination in Point Reyes, where we had an intense cook-off for dinner. Divided into two teams, the group was given the task of making a dish using any of the ingredients at their disposal. James was the grill master for the “chickpeas,” who took the cake with their show-stopping pasta, fried rice, and chicken. Meanwhile, the other group swayed the judges with extra appetizers as they cooked their own spin on a pasta dish. James offered the team moral support and expert taste testing, claiming that cooking ramen is his only specialty. It was so fun to see the groups excited and working as a team, no matter how tasty the outcome!
It is hard to believe we will only have one more trip update following this one. This group continues to soak up each minute of time together and enjoy every moment. Until next time!
Eleanor, Alli, and Andrew
July 21, 2023
Checking in after enjoying the sunshine and beauty of Lake Tahoe! It is hard to believe that our time at the lake has already come and gone. Time, slow down!
After our first night of rest in the cooler temperatures of Tahoe, we fueled up on a big breakfast of eggs, bacon, and English muffins. We started out strong with kayaking on the agenda for the first day. At a beach just down the road, we were greeted by our awesome guides Bailey and Emma who made our first day on the water one to remember. We were fitted in life jackets and listened to a safety briefing before hopping in our tandem kayaks to hit the water. Everyone was thrilled to be on the water for the first time and taken aback by the lake’s beauty. Lake Tahoe is even bigger than the kids imagined, and snow capped mountains can still be seen in the distance! The water is the perfect refreshing temperature and crystal clear. After learning the basic strokes to paddle forward, backward, and turn we jumped into the water games. An intense game of sharks and minnows began as our first competition, with many groups volunteering to be the sharks first. Every single minnow was tagged in round one except for Lila’s crew, who snuck through to win it all. She then brought her love of soccer to the table as the group learned to play a revised version while in their kayaks. The teams were split by boat color, with each team choosing a defensive boat, midfield, and forward. The objective was to hit the other team’s buoy while continuing to paddle and staying in the boundaries.
The game was a hit and grew fiercely competitive fast! Rowan and Patrick were key players for the yellow team, dominating on the offensive end in the last round of the game. The final round of the game was our tie-breaker, so the stakes were high. We watched as Porter and Claire worked tirelessly to guard their buoy for the orange boats but their efforts fell short when yellow scored the winning goal. These intense moments of defense often ended in a few flipped kayaks and many laughs!
After a fun morning of games and paddling, we headed back to shore for a lunch of deli sandwiches, fruit, and chips. The weather was beautiful as the sunshine reflected off of the lake, inviting us to hang out a while. We spent part of the afternoon swimming, tanning, and playing ninja on the beach. Once everyone was tired out from the sun, we piled in the van to check out Lake Tahoe city. We had to celebrate the fun day in the sun with, of course, ice cream and froyo! We paid a visit to our favorite ice cream spot in Tahoe where everyone enjoyed their cones and played some corn hole. Next stop: shopping. Our first stop was a souvenir shop with a great supply of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and stickers. James naturally had to add to his bear outfit, finding a pair of large fuzzy bear paw slippers. They were quite the outfit addition which James proceeded to walk around town in! Once everyone had stockpiled enough Tahoe merch and explored the town, it was time for a surprise destination to continue the fun.
We loaded the van once again, cryptically telling the group it was time to check out a new spot and have some dinner. Everyone looked out the window with anticipation, cheering when they realized we were crossing the Nevada state line! We made our way to “hidden” beach and picked up a picnic dinner of pizza, pasta, and salad on the way. We settled into a beautiful area with a scenic overlook for the sunset, where we lounged on the rocks to enjoy the food and recount all the fun of the day. Once the crew was fueled, we led them down to our surprise swimming spot, complete with the perfect view to watch the deep orange sunset. The rocks and scenery made for an incredibly memorable swim, a night that is sure to be most of the group’s favorite memory of the trip. Ellis was determined to find a rock that would resemble Ariel’s rock in the ‘Little Mermaid’ and George was thankful for the cool water to help sooth his slight sunburn. Clara and Ethan were the first to jump into the water as the group swam until dusk, soaking in the fun and surreal beauty of the lake around us. After a slightly wet, yet content drive back to camp, one more surprise awaited! Our camp host had graciously offered to build us a campfire which everyone enjoyed warming up by as we made s’mores and reflected on the awesome day.
On our second and final morning at Tahoe, we packed up camp, had breakfast, and headed back to the beach for paddle boarding. We were happy to be back on the lake, paddling along the coastline to admire another day’s gorgeous weather. After tiring out from the journey, we spent some time playing red light green light, doing yoga, and sunbathing. Anneliese worked tirelessly at her tree pose until she stuck it without falling into the water, while Claire showed off her impressive headstand. These girls have quite the balance! Meanwhile, the boards made for the perfect platforms for the king of the paddleboard for the boys. It was then time for the paddle back to shore, where we had lunch and enjoyed the beach. While some swam, a few elected to sunbathe. Banks was our sunscreen tattoo artist, painting her friends with sunscreen shapes. After spending the day soaking up the Tahoe sun, we dried off and loaded the van for our next destination: the American River for white water rafting! Stay tuned for more adventures.
We truly cannot believe it’s already day 9 of this trip. Time has been flying by with this group, and we truly cannot thank you enough for sharing your children with us, they are an extraordinary group of kids!
Eleanor, Alli, and Andrew
July 19, 2023
It’s CAL C again, writing from a van full of sleeping kids with our time in Yosemite in the rear view. Over the past few days exploring Bass Lake and California’s beautiful National Park, we’ve made countless memories that are sure to last. From hikes and climbs to dance parties and polar plunges, this group has been growing closer by the minute and constantly laughing!
We settled into our campsite at Bass Lake and immediately stepped on to the basketball court right next to our tents. The group loves this site’s court, activities, and luxurious bathrooms – equipped with running hot water! Once settled, we shared our dinner of BBQ sandwiches and popped over to greet our neighbors, another Moondance group. After everyone enjoyed the showers, we had Moonup and called it a night.
The next morning, we fueled up on breakfast to prepare for the day of hiking ahead of us. The drive into the park was winding and scenic, offering views of rolling hills, trees, and mountains as we drove into the valley. The view on the other side of the road’s iconic tunnel took our breath away! (Let it be known that most held their breath through the tunnel, but it’s breathtaking regardless!) We were able to see the open landscape in all its glory, even with a slight haze of smoke from a few since contained forest fires deeper in the park. Then to the Mist Trail and Nevada Falls trailhead. The first leg of the hike, Mist Trail, lives up to the name as we climb right through the spray of the scenic waterfall! Most of the group emerged soaked to the core, squishy socks, and all, but never happier and feeling accomplished. The falls even create numerous rainbows and create an unreal hike. We took a quick break above this trail before deciding to take the day even farther: 1.5 more miles to the top of Nevada Falls! No other group has decided to tackle this trek, so we are very impressed by this crew’s grit. The hike is a steady incline with many switchbacks, and we loved seeing each student cheer their friends on even in moments of steep climbs and exhaustion. The view from the top was well worth it. The group was able to take turns dunking their heads into the chilly water of the Merced River, try their hand at a human pyramid, and gaze out at the thousand-foot-high view of the park. By the time we ascended, the sun was setting, creating a surreal orange haze as we backtracked our steps back down along the falls. This hike was a favorite for many, given the satisfaction of the summit and grandeur of the view. Patrick showed off his parkour skills on the way down, jumping and heel clicking from rock to rock. We trudged to the van, legs jelly from our hike and raved about scenery on the way back to camp. Back home, we cooked a delicious tortellini dinner thanks to help from both George and Ethan, who has been a consistent help in the kitchen for every meal. We then held a killer Moonup under the stars and got in bed soon after.
Everyone slept well after such an eventful day, and soon enough it was time to rise and shine for our first day of rock climbing. We loaded up the van bright and early, some choosing to get the rest of their beauty sleep on the drive into the park as we had breakfast. Everyone was excited for the new activity and ready to see what rock climbing had in store. In the park, we met our guides, James, and Benton, who taught the kids climbing basics like safety, belaying, and foot placement. Pretty soon everyone was scaling the slick rock slab and belaying each other to the top. Claire and Rowan were some of our strongest and fastest climbers, quickly completing each of the routes. Porter particularly enjoyed Alli’s freestyle rap songs, performed to encourage climbers. He did some of his best belaying to the tune of her creative beats, backed up by Ellis’s cheerleading. After climbing for a few hours, we took a break for lunch and enjoyed solid ground. Worn out from learning the ropes of climbing, we drove back to Bass Lake for a dip in the water before dinner. It has been averaging triple digit heat these past few days, so we have been taking every opportunity to jump into a body of water (an important rule learned at Moondance staff training!). We rushed into the lake for a few swimming races and games of tips. Then it was back to camp to cook dinner and take some well-needed showers. Greek pita wraps were a crowd favorite tonight as we circled up to share stories from the day and enjoy our meal. Thanks to Banks’s leadership and energy, dish washing quickly transitioned into a dance party in the dark, made complete by Eleanor’s speaker and headlamp strobe lights. We closed the night with yet another impactful Moonup before calming the group down for bed.
Day three in Yosemite was another early morning! We woke up, had breakfast in the van, and drove into the park, excited for another day to expand on our rock-climbing skills. Along the way, we took a quick pit stop in the park for souvenirs. James took this opportunity to buy a full outfit of a bear hat, baby bib, and mask, posing as a black bear for the rest of the day. Along a few walking paths, James gave passersby the chance for a “bear sighting” in his attire. Today we were able to move into crack climbing, where the routes are a little trickier and the climber utilizes the crevices of a natural crack in the rock as footholds. Our crew is full of pros, as they completed each route the guides had set up. After lunch, Andrew took on belaying a few brave ones to try the most challenging route, thanks to Anneliese who blazed the trail as the first to try it. Everyone rocked their final climbs and bid our guides farewell as we continued the afternoon with a river swim! Just a small walk through the valley, we played on the riverbank under the views of Yosemite Falls to the left and meadows surrounding El Capitan on the right! The water was refreshingly chilly, making everyone shriek as they ran into the water together and dunked their heads. The scenery here is truly jaw-dropping and the perfect place to cool off! Once our fingers pruned up, it was time to dry off and head back to the van, obviously snapping a few photos first. The ride home was bittersweet as we bid Yosemite a final farewell on the way back to Bass Lake.
Once we arrived back, we had another fun afternoon of activities including an intense boys vs. girls basketball game matchup. Everyone was a part of the game (basketball pros or not). Clara brought her A-game to the court scoring multiple baskets, while Lila was a key passer who kept the ball moving. After building up an appetite we had a cookout for dinner with burgers, hotdogs, and a Caesar salad courtesy of Lila’s chef skills. After the feast we loaded in the van for a last-minute surprise: ice cream and of course, a parking lot dance party! Eventually the sugar rushes settled down we held Moonup on the lake, reflecting on our time in Yosemite and Bass lake.
This morning was relaxing and much deserved after our last few early wake up calls for rock climbing. We had a big breakfast including pancakes, oatmeal, sausage, and hash browns! Once we finished our meal, we finished packing up camp and our duffels as we prepared to make the drive to Lake Tahoe. The van ride today was nothing short of entertaining with George’s song requests like the theme song from Thomas the train, and the shuffling of Mama Mia classics. We even made a stop at the famous West Coast In&Out. Many in our group had never been and had to see what it was all about. The temperature is falling encouragingly lower as we grow closer to our campsite! Everyone is looking forward to more fun in the sun with kayaking and paddle boarding on the agenda.
Signing off for now!
Andrew, Eleanor, and Alli
James – “Hello, parents. I miss you guys and thank you for sending me here.”
George – “Hey Mom and Dad, thank you for sending me on this trip. Tell Walker hi!”
Banks – “Hey Mom and Dad, what’s up? Life’s good, take care of my bearded dragon! I love you, goodbye.”
Anneliese – “Hey Mom, Dad, and Charlotte! Yosemite was really great, I had a lot of fun rock climbing. I miss you, and I’m so excited for Lake Tahoe! Tell Moose I said hi.”
Claire – “Hi Mom and Dad, I miss y’all so much but Moondance has been so much fun so far! I had so much fun rock climbing and I’m super excited to spend time in Tahoe. Tell everyone I say hi, love you so much!”
Porter – “What’s up mom and dad, miss you guys lots. Having lots of fun! Tell everybody I say hi!”
Lila – “Hey Mom and Dad, thank you for this trip. Yosemite was really pretty, the hiking was hard but so worth it when we got to the top. Tell Sonny & Josie I say hi!”
Ellis – “Hey Mom and Dad, we’re having so much fun. Love and miss you!”
Rowan – “Hi mom and dad, I miss you and love you so much. Rock climbing and surfing was really fun, Yosemite is beautiful, and I’m having a great time!”
Patrick – “Sup fam, how’s it going? I’m having a lot of fun here, Yosemite was dope and I’m excited to see Tahoe. I hope Tyler’s tournament went well, love and miss y’all bye.”
Ethan – “Hi, I’m okay and I miss you guys. I’m having a ton of fun. Love you and see you soon!”
Clara – “What’s up Toby Bryant! I’m getting married. Ross Lynch proposed.”
July 15, 2023
Hello from CALC! It’s Alli, Eleanor, and Andrew here with an update about our action-filled few days so far! It’s hard to believe it’s already been three days since we arrived at SFO, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our group. As each member came off the plane and greeted us it was obvious that this is an awesome group with a passionate energy. After we thankfully received every child and bag safely, we made our way to our first stop: Half Moon Bay!
Our unforgettable oceanfront campsite welcomed us with open arms as we unpiled from the van. Our campsite overlooks the ocean directly with a beautiful path making it only a thirty-second walk to the water! The sun was shining on our first afternoon together, as we shared important lessons like tent setup, campsite etiquette, and the famous duffle ‘shuffle’ – not to be confused with a dance move! Once we brought everyone up to speed on the camp basics, we loaded in the van once more to enjoy our first dinner together at a nearby ocean overlook. A Moondance classic and comforting first night meal of pizza was devoured and enjoyed as we shared laughs and stories. This picnic spot was perfect to appreciate the stunning Pacific coastline and get to know each other. Of course, the night would not have been complete without a surprise stop for ice cream! Baskin Robbin’s pink and blue cotton candy flavor was hands-down the most popular among our group. After enjoying our frozen delicacies, we gathered back at the campsite for our first Moonup together. This is a reflective time each night on a Moondance trip, which has several components including a nightly question and the famous ‘nug’ jug, a time to share gratitude within our circle. After hearing what everyone hoped to gain from the trip, we crawled into bed, lulled to sleep by the crashing waves as we dreamed of the day of surfing to come!
Soon enough, the sun rose over our first morning at camp. For many of our campers, it was their first night in a tent. So far, we’ve been receiving rave reviews, especially given the ocean waves – no white noise machine needed! James even said it was more comfortable than his bed at home (we’ll see if he still thinks that in a few days). We pulled out all the stops for our first breakfast: pancakes, hash browns, and bacon! The scenic view of the ocean with a cloudy rainbow made it even better as we prepared for our first day of surfing. We even had time for the first soccer game of many, using sweatshirts as goals.
Soon enough, we drove down the road into Pacifica to our surfing spot, jumping out of the van for a mandatory parking lot dance party before meeting our guides and slipping on wetsuits. With the sun shining and excitement in the air, we had an even bigger surprise waiting us. President and founder, Hayes Hitchens, arrived in the parking lot to come see what Pacifica surfing is all about. Hayes makes a visit to a few trips each year, and our group was lucky enough to meet him! We learned about surfing etiquette, safety in the water, and the surfing basics. After learning to paddle and pop up once catching a wave we jumped in the water to body surf and test out the temperature. The water was chilly, but we adopted the warmest attitudes possible, soaking up the rays and pumping adrenaline. Next, we grabbed our boards and the fun began! As Hayes looked on from the shore, most would have thought everyone in our group had surfed before! Catching waves effortlessly, Banks rode multiple waves all the way into shore. George, a seasoned surfing pro, had no issues catching the big waves, making comments about how the California waves compare to South Carolina’s, he was impressed by what the ocean had to offer.
Tarla, our surfing instructor, is a fan of the party wave where more than one surfer shares a wave. He introduced this method to Claire and Annelise, who were determined to share a wave.
After a successful and fun afternoon of surfing we had one more exciting surprise in store. Pacifica is famous for its ocean front Taco Bell, some even call it the most scenic Taco Bell in the country. Everyone earned a Baja blast slushie after our surfing lesson, which was especially savored by James who got the souvenir size cup. He plans to everything out of this cup for the rest of the trip.
After a short ride back to camp we made some delicious sandwiches and had some carrots and hummus before setting up our second soccer game of the day. We have some competitive athletes in this group, making every match a fun one to watch. The boys versus girls matchup made for some friendly competition, as Porter showed off his skills dribbling up the field. Lila was quite the competitor for the girls, fiercely kicking the ball into the goal several times. Ellis and Rowan were strong defensive players, protecting their goal at all costs. Eleanor and Andrew even joined in on the fun after acting as the referees for the first half of the game. The fun continued on the beach as we played a few more games, passed the volleyball, and even had some brave souls willing to take a polar plunge. Andrew led the plunge with Banks, Patrick, Lila, and James in tow as they jumped through the cold waves. Meanwhile, George and Ethan shared a debate about their favorite U.S. states and discussed their ideas for new inventions, including an upgraded version of the paper straw. We are interested to see where that idea goes! After working up quite the appetite, we enjoyed our famous taco “Tuesday,” with a spread accompanying delicious ground beef tacos. The sun set on day two as we held Moonup, sharing our nugs and favorite movies. Soon enough everyone was in bed, resting up for another day of surfing.
This morning came even faster than the first, as we packed up camp bright and early. Everyone helped each other pack tents, load the U-Haul, and prepare breakfast. Muscle memory kicked in as everyone put on their wet suits with no issues, then we grabbed our boards and ran to the beach. Today we expanded on our knowledge from the day before, focusing on paddling out farther and scouting waves. We had a group of advanced surfers who brought the energy for another great day. Clara was determined and worked to ride several waves to shore seamlessly, smiling even after a failed attempt. It was fun to watch as everyone grew more comfortable on the waves and leaned on the help of our guides less! After riding our last waves to shore, we took some refreshing outdoor showers, and enjoyed a parking lot lunch of deli sandwiches and fruit and also a one last treat from Taco Bell, a beef taco. Now we hit the road for stop #2: Bass Lake and Yosemite!
As we drive north, the weekend’s heat wave is becoming apparent as the car thermometer continues to rise. As we pull into Bass Lake we look forward to some beautiful hikes, rock climbing, and swimming opportunities. We are pumped for the adventures in store with this wonderful group. Signing off until our next update!
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!