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Chamonix 1A • June 6-June 28, 2023

Au Revoir!

June 29, 2023

After 23 days of endless laughter and fun, our time together has come to an end. As we write this final trip update with teary eyes and heavy hearts after saying goodbye to our perfect group of 11, we are reflecting upon our last two days together venturing around Paris, France. While we had no obligations, our days in Paris were nothing but full. When we first arrived in Paris on Monday afternoon, we immediately dropped our bags off at the hostel and went out into the city. We walked down to the Pantheon, Notre Dame, and the Louvre, taking in every second of Paris we could get. Holtie made sure to take a photo heel-clicking in front of each location as he did countless times throughout the trip. While walking around, Ben created an alternate personality for himself; Chet, a child actor from Los Angeles. Through the entirety of our time in Paris, our new group member, Chet, kept us laughing as he consistently talked about himself in the third person. After walking around for a good few hours, we decided to stop and have dinner at a restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. Right when we finished eating, we realized that in 8 minutes the Eiffel Tower would sparkle. Not wanting to miss a single second of it, we started sprinting down the street to try and make it to the Eiffel Tower in time. After hearing about Charlie’s cross country during all trip, we finally got to see him in action by leading the pack in the race to the tower. Right when we reached the Eiffel Tower it lit up, making every second of our post-dinner run worth it! After finding that the line to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower was virtually non-existent, we thought “why not us” as we started our hike up to the second floor then took an elevator from the second floor to the very top. Everyone was in awe of the views from the top and we were especially proud of Maggie for facing her fear of heights by climbing the stairs! When we got to the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, we saw an ice cream stand and immediately ran over. Luckily for Louisa and Abby the ice cream stand also had crepes which they gladly choose over ice cream any day. As we ventured back to our hostel that night, the excitement of tomorrow was in the air.


Knowing that we had a big day ahead, we fueled up on bagels from a local breakfast stop to begin our second day in Paris. After scarfing down some bagels, coffee, and donuts we were ready to hit the town! In high demand from Izzy and Sarah, our first stop was Brandy Melville — it was quite the success. Next, we continued down the streets of Paris, meandering into different stores. Safe to say some student’s bags were a little bit more full on the flight home than they were at the beginning of the trip. Our last stop of the day was a little thrift store that had the perfect supplies for banquet. The boys loaded up on funky shirts and many sunglasses were purchased. Stephen definitely won the craziest outfit as the combination of prints and suspenders made him resemble some sort of rodeo clown. When we returned to our hostel, the boys immediately changed into their banquet outfits which consisted of an electric mix of button down shirts with suspenders and fun patterned pants! We headed out to our banquet dinner where we gorged ourselves with sushi. While everyone was more than full by the time our dinner was finished, our stomachs needed some ice cream. As we ventured out to walk towards the Eiffel Tower and in search of a sweet end to the day, Aubrey surprised us with another scavenger hunt, and we were more than excited! After completing the photo scavenger hunt portion of the game, we headed towards the train to go to the Eiffel Tower for our final Moonup. We had been talking about our need for group bérets and we finally found a stand selling them on the way to the Eiffel Tower. We threw on our new bérets and headed towards our Moonup location. While everyone was rocking their béret, George looked like a natural béret wearer! Before beginning Moonup, we finished Aubrey’s game with a riddle and for the finale of the game, the person to guess how many stairs it takes to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower won a prize! In typical CHA 1A fashion, we opened the nug jug and it remained open for the next hour and a half as we reminisced on our time together. It was a time full of laughter, and some tears, as the reality began to set in that it was our last night together. With the Eiffel Tower sparkling behind us, we can’t have asked for a better way to conclude our time together. 


Thank you for entrusting us with your kids for the past 23 days. It truly was a trip of a lifetime not just for the students but for us as leaders as well because of how amazing your kids are. Your kids left a permanent mark on us and we cannot thank them enough for being the best students we could have ever imagined. We know that our time together is not finished as we began planning our reunion before anyone had even left but until then our hearts will feel a little empty without them around. 


With so much love,

Joe and Cleo

Peace Out Pyrenees!!

June 26, 2023

106 miles of hiking later…


Yesterday we finished up our 55-mile Pyrenees section, officially completing the trekking portions of our trip; a bittersweet feeling. The first few days in the Pyrenees gave us rain but we didn’t let that weigh us down. At our first hostel, we waited off the rain by enjoying some naps, playing cards, and solving riddles. Louisa led the way playing Egyptian Rat Slaps, and no one was able to match the speed of her slapping ability. Holt and Charlie got the group started on our riddle obsession, leaving everyone thinking hard and sparking the next weeks’ worth of riddles. Once the rain cleared up in the afternoon, we went outside to play some hacky sack, take some photos, and throw the football. We were blessed with clear skies for Moonup and treated to our best night of stars yet. Stephen noticed a particularly bright satellite moving through the sky, and we quickly realized that it was the International Space Station. Not long after, we noticed Mars and saw a massive shooting star. After mostly cloudy nights on the Tour Du Mont Blanc, it was a great change of pace to be able to enjoy some star gazing after Moonup.

Day 2’s weather let us get back on the trail and on the road to Gavarnie, a quaint little town with an incredible view of the Cirque de Gavarnie. After a much-needed ice cream/gelato stop, per Abby’s suggestion, we made our way up to the coolest hostel of the trip, a small refuge tucked away up in the mountains, affording us some of the best views of the Pyrenees. Day 3 brought us back into Gavarnie, where the weather kept us in the next hostel for the better part of the afternoon. With a ping pong table in the dining room, George and Ben led the charge on some dueling, while Izzy and Sarah prompted the idea of an afternoon snack in the form of pizza; all of which were huge hits. After dinner, Aubrey had a surprise for the group in the form of a scavenger hunt for us to complete, including riddles and trivia. It took us about an hour and a half and was a major highlight of the trip. Her creativity and humor was on full display and we had a blast. We covered 24 miles over the next two days before ending up in Torla, France. To celebrate the near completion of our trek, we enjoyed a restaurant in Torla with our guide Matteo, an amazing man our group loved deeply. Maggie has continued to impress with her food ordering abilities and palate, recounting many of the dishes she has ventured to try during her time living in Asia. We continued our lucky streak of clear skies to enjoy the stars and had a lovely Moonup in Torla before our final morning on the trail.

Our final morning was a 3-hour trek back into Spain while gaining 3000 feet of elevation; a challenging and proper end to our hiking! We were able to swim an alpine lake at the end of our hike, a much-needed reprieve from the hot sun and our hiking clothes! Following the swim, we descended via car back to Luz where we were able to shower and have a fabulous pizza dinner before yet again locating some delicious ice cream.

We are now en route to Paris to enjoy our last few days on the trip. It is incredibly bittersweet and no one wants to acknowledge that the trip is close to coming to an end. We all agree that this has been the trip ever and that our group is perfect. As leaders, it has been truly incredible to watch the students become best friends and we feel so very lucky to have been along for the journey. It will be very hard to say goodbye on Wednesday, but we know this will not be the last time we see each other. Thank you again for letting us have the best three weeks ever with your kids; it has been the most enjoyable privileges of our lives. This is one special bunch. We are going to miss them dearly.



With gratitude,

Cleo and Joe

Hello from Costa Brava!

June 18, 2023

Hola from Costa Brava!


Our group just wrapped up five amazing days in Spain, enjoying the warm beaches, amazing food, and sunny weather. During our first night at the campground, we met a large group of family and friends celebrating a 61st birthday, accompanied by a band, so naturally we joined in on the dance party and showed off some “Americano dance moves.” A perfect introduction to the liveliness and fun we were about to experience.


Our first full day in Costa Brava was spent relaxing, laughing, and swimming; after early mornings every day on this trip, it was a welcomed break to sleep in with no time pressure. In an atypical occurrence for an international trip, we had the pleasure of being able to cook our own food at the campsite and wasted no time in cooking up some proper American breakfasts, including bacon, cream cheese toast, juice, scrambled eggs, and fruit. We spent the rest of the morning at the campground pool before heading to the beach for the afternoon. Everyone swam in the ocean and we enjoyed some beach naps on the warm sand while playing some soccer and volleyball. The warm sun and ocean breeze was the hottest we have been on the trip so far and led to Maggie giving the group a rundown on the weather in Singapore; unbeknownst to the rest of the group, it is hot year-round in Singapore with very little temperature differences between seasons. Lucky for us, we get to experience the full spectrum of mountain and coastal weather on this unforgettable trip.


For Day 1 of the sea kayaking, we drove to Tamariu, a town about 45 minutes south of our campsite. The steep and rocky coastline created some amazing caves we were able to kayak into and explore before we found a small beach to pull up to for lunch! Stephen and Holt led the charge of jumping into the water for a refreshing post-lunch swim. They also took our guides up on the offer of attempting to roll a kayak under water while they stayed in their seats; both times it resulted in them going swimming and having to then dump all the water out of their kayaks, but was a blast nonetheless. George shared stories of the day he kayaked 17 miles down the coast of Hawaii and how this trip was exponentially more enjoyable, given that we were cruising at a leisurely pace, there to enjoy the scenery and water. We felt very blessed to have such incredible weather and conditions for both days of our sea kayaking.


We had the treat of taking a cooking class at a beachside restaurant in Cala Montgo after our first day on the kayaks. We all agreed that this was one of the best meals of our entire lives, let alone the trip, as we enjoyed several courses that included guacamole and salmon ceviche, roasted lettuce with Parmesan, olive oil, and shredded corn nuts, along with Fideua, croquettes, and calamari. We finished it up with a caramel dessert. Ben told us that while he’s never been a fan of eating fish, the salmon ceviche was an exception and that he loved it. No better place to expand your culinary palate than on a beach in Spain next to the ocean where that fish was just swimming around in the water!


Our second day of kayaking took us into more amazing caves and coves as well as some practice learning how to help each other when a kayak flips. Everyone enjoyed getting to cool off in the water, especially Isabella! Our photos and videos from this trip have been incredible so far and the kayaking was no exception. We can’t wait to share more with you!


Our group’s leaders of the day on day 2 of kayaking, Ben and Abby, led the charge on our “Iron chef” competition at the campsite where the group had a culinary battle to channel some of the skills we learned in our cooking class. Sarah and Izzy put their past culinary camp experience into play to help direct their multi-course meal, while Louisa used the skills she learned in Italy to spearhead an Italian meal. While both teams created culinary masterpieces, Aubrey’s chicken piccata put her and Abby’s team over the edge for the victory. It was so impressive watching the groups come together to cook incredible meals without using cookbooks, watches, or timers! For our final Moonup in Spain, we ascended a ridge behind our campsite to be able to take in the full coastal view and enjoy the sunset. Charlie blazed the trail, helping us avoid the thorns and spiked bushes before he uncovered our best Moonup spot yet. This group wasted no time in getting deep during Moonup, and it has led to some of the most meaningful nights we’ve had the pleasure of participating in. This group truly gets better and closer by the day and has gotten tighter in 12 days than we as leaders ever thought possible. We feel so very blessed to have such a special crew to enjoy this trip with and we cannot believe/do not want to believe that it’s already halfway over. We’ve all shared the sentiment of wishing we could repeat the past 2 weeks on a loop forever; we cannot wait to start this next section of hiking in the Pyrenees before we head back to Paris. Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to share this experience with your kids; it truly is the trip of a lifetime.



Hi!!! I miss y’all so much but I’m having an amazing time on this trip! I hope y’all having so much fun in the Galapagos! Happy Father’s Day Dad!! Also Happy 10th Birthday Wade!!! I cannot believe you’re 10 years old!! See you in the Vineyard!

Love Abby


Hi parents. I miss you guys, the trip is very fun. I enjoy being away from home on this trip, although I do miss you guys. Hahaha. And the ducks. I think about the ducks a lot. And Jenna as well. She better be keeping them alive. Okay happy Father’s Day, I love you guys!



Hey daddy not sure if u will see this but I love u happy Father’s Day hope you are taking care, having fun and that everything is good at home. Hope u are enjoying some peace and quite. Hola mami espero que estes disfrutando Europa y que te esta Llendo bien sola.




Happy Father’s Day, I having lots of fun and see many cool things. Tell Nora I miss her and can’t wait to see her soon. I hope your trip is going well and you had as much fun has I am. See you soon.



Hi mommy, dad, and maybe Nicholas! Happy Father’s Day dad, I hope you are living it up in sg! Mommy I hope you at relaxing in mn. I am having loads of fun and I hope you guys are too! I miss you and can’t wait to see you! Love you!



Bonjour, Mom and Dad! Happy, happy Father’s Day! I miss y’all and the dogs, but I am having an awesome time here. It’s hard to beat a few weeks in Europe. I am excited to see y’all and tell you all about it. Love you guys!



I am having an amazing time, I don’t want to leave. I love you Mom, Dad, Gigi, Kirk, DS, and all of you guys. I hope all is going well. Happy Father’s Day Dad! Ben Nigbor



Bonjour mom, dad, and coleman! I’m having a blast and never want to leave. I’m so close to being fluent in Spanish and French and I’m loving every second of this trip. Everything has been amazing so far. Also happy Father’s Day dad! Love you all! Adios, Holtie


Bonjour y WiWi Mi familia! I’m missing you guys so much but I’m having a blast. My leaders and friends are the best. My besties are wheezie, Holtie, and Steve. We are all speaking I’m different languages and the other day In Spain a woman set down my food and I said Bonjour. Lol. Love you guys so much, thank you so much for this trip. Happy Father’s Day!

Au Revouir, Aubrey


Yo yo yo What’s up guys! I’m having such a good time, it’s incredibly. Everyone and everything is awesome. We are literally having the best time. I miss y’all so much and I hope everything is going well at home and in Washington. I don’t want the trip to end at all. The backpacking is wild and the views are so cool. These place are some of the best places I’ve ever seen. I love y’all so much and see y’all soon.



Hey fam what’s up! I’m having so much fun in France, Spain, and Switzerland. Sadly we were only in Italy for a few hours and we weren’t in a town so I couldn’t speak Italian to anyone. I’m trying to practice my French and honestly I think I can understand Spanish quite well with my Italian! This trip is the best one yet. I love all the people and the activities. It’s fun catching up with Holt! He says hello. I’ve run into a few other moondancers from my past moondances. Happy Father’s Day daddy! Can’t wait to celebrate you birthday with you! Miss y’all, say hi to Charlie for me!

Love Louisa

Tackling the TMB!

June 14, 2023

Hello Chamonix Family and Friends,


Bonjour from your favorite country-hopping, Tour Du Mont Blanc-crushing crew! After a hassle free Trans-Atlantic flight, our group met up in the Paris airport and got rolling with a train to Geneva, Switzerland. Izzy began her first of many conversations in French to assist in our navigations; we have not missed any transfers or train departures, thanks in large part to her fluency! After a final bus transfer, we made it to Chamonix, France. With a group of 100% Moondance alums, we had some awesome alumni gifts to give out during our first Moonup, before Holtie and Maggie were picked to be our group`s first Leaders of the Day.


After a hearty dinner and a long travel day, we had an 18th birthday celebration for Abby at our hostel and got a much needed rest before our day of exploration in Chamonix. We were greeted in the morning by clear skies and views of the French Alps, leaving us in awe of where we were and what we had to look forward to in the coming week. Chamonix is a quaint little magical town that feels like you`re walking through a Disney movie; we enjoyed some gift shops, some outdoor stores, French burgers, and some sorbet. Holtie, Stephen, and Ben showed off their hacky-sack skills with a few games of hacky-sack in the town parks, and we finished the afternoon off by packing and prepping for our 5-day trek on the Tour Du Mont Blanc!


Day 1 of the trek started off with a drop off at the Arnuva Trailhead in Italy and an introduction to our illustrious guide, Nicolas. 2500 feet of elevation gain before lunch made for one hungry group and we enjoyed a delicious lunch spread with lots of breads, cheeses, and charcuterie meats on the border of Italy and Switzerland, before spending the afternoon descending into Switzerland. Whereas Day 1 was spent in the vast landscapes and exposed hills of the Italian Alps, Day 2 was spent in the quaint woods within the Swiss forests, before we reached a remote lake. Despite a light drizzle and a cooling breeze, we practiced the time-honored Moondance tradition of: see water, swim in water. Aubrey set the record for longest time in the water, saying that after a few minutes of getting used to the cold, the water felt like a hot tub. Nicolas let us know that Day 3 would be “the crux” of our trek, with about 3500 feet of elevation gain and 2500 feet of elevation loss over the course of ten miles. Despite the challenging terrain, we were greeted with clear skies and optimal temperatures, making for our best day yet; we didn’t have a single complaint! Izzy and Sarah shared memories, stories, and inspiration with the group from some of their stories from challenging days hiking in Yosemite last summer. After the big day, Charlie and George showed off their endless stomachs, consuming more fondue at dinner than any others, followed by several slices of the cakes we enjoyed to celebrate Cleo’s 22nd birthday & Abby’s again. Serenading them with the happy birthday song in English was well worth the glares and stares we caught from the groups of French people in the same kitchen!


Although Nicolas told us that after the crux it would be “easy easy” the 4th day brought a similar amount of elevation gain and loss as the prior, except that this time we got to enjoy our halfway stop on the border of Switzerland and France. We got out Charlie’s football and Stephen’s hacky-sack to play some cross-border games and take some incredible photos with the alps as a backdrop. Our afternoon was capped off at the bottom of the descent with some much-needed ice cream and soda before quickly trekking the final 35 minutes to our final hostel in Argentiere.


Louisa aptly described this hostel as “the treehouse” given its wooden nature and quaint & cozy rooms—the students piled into one room in the afternoon to enjoy some time playing cards—in typical fashion, there was an incessant stream of laughter echoing out. Stephen entertained the group by showing off his card and magic tricks, at the awe and confusion of the rest of the group. After much talk of pizza on the trail, we surprised the group with a pizza dinner, where we quickly consumed 11 pizzas amongst our group of 13; our walk back to the hostel after pizza was much slower than our walk there…


We wrapped up our trek the next morning by heading back to Chamonix and returning to our original hostel. Warm showers and clean clothes were welcomed with open arms before we went to find burgers for lunch back in town; after 40 miles and seemingly endless uphill sections, it has felt great to indulge our gluttonous sides. With some afternoon naps and yet another pizza dinner, we bid adieu to the wonderful Chamonix and are now on our way to Spain to soak up a few days of sun on the Costa Brava shores. We have some beach time and sea kayaking on the horizon before we embark on our weeklong trek through the Pyrenees.


This group has been so special and has wasted no time bonding and becoming best friends. It was remarkable to see the immediate friendships form on day 1. We spend the majority of our days laughing and snarling and the smiles are never ending. Everyone is having a blast and sends their love home, although we can’t say that anyone has said they want to come home anytime soon… We will include some parent shoutouts in a few days in our next trip update. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know and spend time with your kids; it has quickly turned into truly the trip of a lifetime, and we could not be more thankful. We’re soaking up every moment.



Joe + Cleo

Cham 1A

Fast friends in France!

June 7, 2023

Hello Chamonix Families!

We heard from our leaders this morning and the group has landed safely in France! 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!

-Moondance HQ


  • Abby
  • Aubrey
  • Ben
  • Charlie
  • George
  • Isabella
  • Louisa
  • Maggie
  • Sarah