July 8, 2023
Whitewater rafting round 2! The group packed up gear, filled up on muffins, and hit the road to get back on the Arkansas river to take on some rapids! On the river we started off with some class II rapids to warm up for our biggest challenge, a class IV rapid named 3 Rock. Whit took on the elements without a wetsuit and sat up front to catch the biggest splashes we’ve seen so far. Henry rode up front next to him keeping the paddling in order and motivating the group through the whitewater. Riley took on in the guide’s rowing position on her raft, even the guide was astounded with how fast she picked up the skill. After a few splash battles along the route we pulled off at Pinnacle Rock to get some grub. Refueled and ready to go we took on the last 10 miles of our 20 mile journey. This is where we faced our biggest test in adversity so far, headwinds co,in up the river made the boats stand still in the current. With some grit and hard paddling, we managed our way down the river and smashed our way through 3 Rock, the toughest class IV rapid we’d seen. Graeme screamed with joy through the whole rapid, never losing a smile on his face. Afterwards we dried off and headed back to camp for our cookout! We ate burgers (and the crowd favorite, beyond burgers), watermelon, cantaloupe, baked beans, and sweet corn together around the fire. To cap it all off we indulged in s’mores while retelling the day’s adventures. Bed time was easy after such a long day and a good night’s rest was much needed.
LODs Whit and Eugenia cooked up a huge breakfast for our last morning together consisting of eggs, hash browns, grilled peppers and sausage. Everyone was astounded by Eugenia’s hash brown skills, she cooked up seriously the best hash browns we all had in years. Everyone agreed she needed to pursue it as a career. Leaving Cañon city we said goodbye to the Arkansas River as we made our way towards Cherry Creek State Park in Denver. We jammed out in the car to the new Taylor Swift album, every word was matched by the singing of Ada and Vivion who put on a concert for us as we drove. Julian was up next on the mic, singing along to musicals as we watched the Colorado views from the window. Once arriving at our campground we got ready for lunch, fried chicken with chips and pineapple (the pineapple was the first to be demolished). We coasted through the afternoon cleaning gear, playing cards, and tie dying t-shirts! Isaac impressed all with his unique design and creativity! Colin and Ahna led a game of spoons with the winner taking several dum dum lollipops. After games and a shower we got ready for our final banquet dinner. We all headed out to pick up some goofy outfits before our final meal together. Amelia rocked a hilarious hairdo while rocking some board shorts and a polo. Everyone ate until their stomachs were bursting, filled with milkshakes and diner food. After the students reflected on their experiences and made bucket lists for the next few years, we circled up for our last Moonup, paired with M&M cookies to seal off the night. This has been an absolutely amazing experience to share with these kids, and we are so sad it has come to an end! We have had such a blast and are sad to say our final goodbyes today as the group departs.
Signing off for the last time,
Kai, Trip, and Katherine
July 7, 2023
Hi mom, dad, and Pax! I miss you guys so much. I’m having a blast and I can’t wait to see you soon! We’re about to go white water rafting again after an epic late night drive last night, and I’m so excited! Love you so much and say hi to Titan and Elphie for me! Also, will you bring my book to Maryland for me? 🙂 Love you!
Hey guys! I can’t wait to see you soooon! Love you so much! Tell Calvin I miss him the most.
Hey, Mama, Tata, and Owa
Thank you so much for sending me to this trip, I’ve been having so much fun. I miss you so much , and can’t wait t see you.
P.S. can O come picked me up too?
Hey paps and ma’am,
I miss you guys a lot and I can’t wait to see you on Saturday. Thank you so much for sending me to Moondance, this is probably my best camp year so far. I’ve made a lot of friends, and the boys are not as bad as the O’Henry boys by far. I love you guys so much and I can’t wait to shower! Tell Monty hi, see you soon.
Dear mom and dad
Love and miss you. This has been fun. I got a lot of free stickers at the rafting place.
PS buy me these books
Keeper of the lost city’s series.
DEAR MOM AND DAD,
Hey! I miss y’all so much and I hope that everything is going well at home. Can’t wait to see y’all in a bit! Tell Hugo I said hi and give him extra treats!
Dear Teton and the others,
Camp is cool and fun and I will tell you all about it when I get home.
Dear family, miss y’all
Camp has been awesome and so much fun, and I will tell you all about it when I get home.
Dear family, miss y’all
Camp has been awesome and fun, and I will tell you all about it when I get home. Can you bring my nintendo to California?
Dear family, miss y’all
Camp has been awesome and fun, and I will tell you all about it when I get home.
I have been having a LOT of fun lately, thanks for sending me here.
I’ll tell y’all abt it when I get home!
PS. I got Lawrence a gift hehe
Love, Eugenia 👹
Dear Mom and Dad,
I have been having so much fun. I have made so many friends and thank you so much for letting me come. I can’t wait to see you when I get home and tell you all about everything.
July 6, 2023
Day 6 started bright and early at Hecla Junction on the Arkansas River. The kids packed up their tents while LOD’s Graeme and Eugenia prepared a quick breakfast of yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit and eggs prepared to order (who knew sunny side up eggs were so popular). After breakfast we headed straight for Captain Zipline for a day full of ropes courses and ziplining! After getting geared up with harnesses and helmets, the gang headed down into the canyon. The ropes course was epic as the harder routes soared high above valley below. Everyone started off with the easiest route to get accustomed to the course. Even the easiest route wasn’t too easy, but after we finished all 12 kids ran back to the start to challenge themselves with something harder. Although the blue route was harder, everyone accomplished it. Whit, Eugenia and Henry wanted more of a challenge and attempted the Black diamond route. While the kids were having fun, leaders Katie and Trip took on the ropes course but couldn’t quite keep up with Riley and Isaac as they took on the difficult Double Black routes! Isaac once again proved his skill by completing the hardest route with ease. After several hours of ropes we all gathered at some picnic tables for lunch! We were joined by Captain Zipline mascot Hela, a huge cane corso puppy. She watched as we devoured strawberry Nutella sandwiches, clementines, and turkey cheddar wraps. There was then a tortilla slap off competition before we geared up for an afternoon of ziplining. We zoomed across the course, taking in the canyon and river views from above. Julian found a way to incorporate his classic dance moves while he ziplined to everyone’s delight. Amelia also showed off her skills as she gracefully soared across the lines upside down like a natural.
Later, the gang piled in our second home, the van, and headed towards the Great Sand Dunes National Park! We felt like we were in another world as we pulled up to our beautiful campsite, now surrounded by desert and mountains at the same time. Once at the campsite, we were greeted with a phenomenal sunset, one of the best we had all seen! The bright orange sky was met with pink clouds setting above the sand dunes in the distance. Under the colorful skies, the gang ate chicken quesadillas with black beans followed by a great Moonup led by LODs, Eugenia and Graeme. Right after, we headed to bed early for our early wake up call for a full next day.
The next day we woke bright and early, well more like dark and early. The kids were awoken at 4:00am to music and positivity. After a quick breakfast (midnight snack), we immediately piled in the van as we continued to wake up. Almost right away the vibes were high as excitement started to creep in. As we approached the dunes, the squad got ready for their big hike ahead. Before we knew it, we were climbing the tallest sand dune in North America as the sun rose over the mountain peaks. Our shadows were long as we reached the top, capping off a long but successful hike up the towering sand dunes. Because of the effort, the group was awarded an extra mile at the peak, sour candy! After enjoying the sunrise, the kids began getting eager to sand board down the sandy slopes. Taking turns, everyone got the chance to shred the gnar. Whit proved his ability by going the fastest while also maintaining his perfect balance. The sand proved to be the perfect material to sled down, just like fresh powdered snow. Once all the kids were worn out, we headed back to the van as the sky started turning a bright blue. Once back at camp, we had a much more hardy breakfast consisting of Turkey sausage, pancakes, scrambles eggs, and hashbrowns: a well deserved feast! We hit the road to Ridgway State Park afterwards, but stopped halfway in Gunnison, Colorado for a late lunch. After munching on sliders, popcorn chicken, fried PB&Js, and grilled cheeses, we hit a local ice cream spot for a quick treat. Once at camp, the kids were able to shower and do some laundry. LODs, Whit and Ahna, led Moonup before we hit our sleeping pads for a long sleep before the backcountry!
Next up, backcountry day!!! The kids were awoken to kit kat cereal and bagels before diving into a “duffle shuffle” lesson. To prep for backpacking, we packed only the essentials, leaving all cotton behind! We then distributed group gear, practicing our “expedition behavior” by splitting up all of the food and supplies amongst everyone’s bags. Colin was a champ, carrying the most weight of all of the students, showing model “EB”! After we had everything ready to go, we took off towards San Juan National Forest, taking in the seemingly infinite mountain views as we drove. The students were dripped out in some Moondance merch before hitting the trail. Vivion led the pack, bringing the energy and setting the pace for the group. After hiking among blooming wildflowers and feeling like we were in Narnia, we stumbled across a beautiful campsite surrounded by trees with two different stunning mountains, one snow capped and one a unique clay red. After setting up tents, we set up our bear burrito, the area where all food and “smellies” (toiletries, etc.) are kept as part of our bear safety practice. LODs Riley and Issac prepared a delicious pasta feast with chicken and a choice of Alfredo or marinara sauce (or both)! The group then circled up for our first backcountry Moonup, talking into the night with a sky full of stars above with Henry and Amelia as our next LODs up to bat!
Happy 4th: backcountry addition! We had a lot on our plate for our unique fourth! First up: a full plate – of donuts and protein pancakes drenched in red white and blue sprinkles along with oatmeal and grits. After filling our stomachs and relaxing under the snow capped 14er, we began our long hike to Navajo Lake, an alpine lake tucked between massive mountains. Our hike started off nice and easy as we were protected by the tall trees on our mostly flat and downhill trail. The intensity turned up a notch for the second half as we found ourselves walking straight uphill for the better part of an hour and a half. Before we knew it, we were above the tree line and equal to the massive cliffs we sat below during breakfast. Everyone proved their strength and endurance by making it up a very challenging ridge. Ada showed her leadership skills by keeping a positive attitude and keeping the vibes high throughout the hardest portion of the hike. After a true grind, we finally made it up to Navajo lake. It was even cooler than we expected as the water was bright blue, and the snow was bright white. After munching on some trail mix and tortilla sandwiches, Vivion and Riley dared to be the first to jump in the water. Although they screamed as they jumped in, they immediately influenced the rest of the group to get in the water. All 12 kids and 3 leaders hopped in the freezing water, no one more than 30 seconds. Whit proved his grit by staying in the water the longest! Although it was extremely frigid while in the water, the whole group felt refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for the second half of the hike. We headed back down the steep ridge and made it back to camp in what felt like no time thanks to riddles, songs, and superhero debates. The total tally for miles fell just short of 8, but felt longer as most of the hike was a long trek uphill! All the kids did a spectacular job and kept a positive mindset throughout the entire 7 hour hike. “That was by far the coolest hike I have ever done,” Julian remarked. After a long day in the sun, and freezing water, Henry and Amelia helped make pita pizzas for the rest of the group: the perfect meal to warm our bellies. As the sun set, the glow sticks came out, as red white and blue lights began to fill the darkness of the forest. The glow sticks made Moonup a special treat as the patriotic lights circled around to reflect on such a special day. Although it wasn’t typical, our Fourth of July couldn’t be more picture perfect!
After a night of rest of and recuperation, we had a bittersweet morning as we packed up camp, ate oatmeal and grits, and said goodbye to backcountry but were also ready for all of the fun left to be had…. TOWN DAY! After hiking out, which felt like a piece of cake after our 8 miler the day before, the kids had some good ‘ol Kraft Mac & Cheese as a nice appetizer before heading into Telluride. We stopped by a local pizza shop for a well deserved feast post backcountry! After stuffing ourselves to the brim, we shopped around town and indulged in some local baked sweets as well as some ice cream. The gang then piled in the van for one of the last long drives back toward Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River for another day of whitewater rafting!
July 1, 2023
Hellooooooooooo family !! We are out here living our best life in the great state of Colorado! We started out our adventure with a bang by celebrating Colin’s birthday, cookie cake and all! We journeyed to Elk Creek, our first campsite, but not before loading up on pizza. After the students became tent masters, we circled up for our first Moonup under the stars. Moonup is absolutely our favorite part of Moondance, a great opportunity to reflect on our day and lives, while also creating memories amid forming bonds. After introducing the beloved “Nug jug”, a rapid-fire popcorn style shoutout session to hype each other up. After discussing topics such as our biggest fears to what we think people’s alternative names would be, we announced our first Leaders of the Day (LODs), Colin and Riley! LODs take on the role of chefs, logistics, timekeepers, and more. We then all headed to bed in preparation for our first activity, rock climbing!!
Day two began with a hearty breakfast of bagels and eggs, prepared by our LOD’s Colin and Riley. After some morning games with the volleyball, the gang headed to our first day of rock climbing. After a quick drive, we found ourselves at the foot of a massive red cliff, a perfect contrast to the bright blue skies. The kids were eager to climb, as Whit and Eugienia headed up the rock face first, proving both their skill and confidence. Isaac showed off his impressive climbing ability as he successfully climbed up all the routes with a fast pace. Later in the afternoon, Vivion showed her resilience by making it up the hardest part of the hardest route. Her friends cheered her on from the ground below. After a long day of climbing, we headed back to Elk Creek. The group spontaneously jumped into the nearby lake, which was absolutely freezing, but a fun experience for all. As the LODs were preparing a dinner of chicken pasta with pesto, Ahna and Amelia were crushing it on the spikeball court. As the sun set, Moonup began. It was a great first official Moonup, as the group had an early bonding moment. The stars were bright after a first full day in the mountains of Colorado.
The elected LODs for day three were Julian and Amelia. They rose early with the leaders and made a fan favorite breakfast: Breakfast Burritos. They consisted of eggs, bacon, chorizo, black beans, avocado, peppers, and cheese. Graeme loaded his burrito up with all ingredients, making a filling breakfast. Our second site for climbing was just south of Crested Butte, high up in the mountains. The view was spectacular, as snowcapped peaks and roaring cliffs could be seen with little effort. Isaac once again showed off his skills, taking on every route and crushing each one. Vivion led a game of “Wavelength” with the others as they waited their turn to climb. After another great day on the cliffs, we headed into town for some surprise ice cream. As we drove through Crested Butte, Ada explained to the group that she is very familiar with the area and pointed out her favorite spots in town. The ice cream was great and was much deserved. Our drive to the next campsite was a couple of hours, but spirits remained high as each kid played their favorite songs. Once at Arkansas Headwaters: Hecla Junction, the group again proved their tent skills as they set them up in no time. Julian and Amelia helped craft our delicious dinner, build your own pita pizzas! Half the crew opted for BBQ chicken and others went for a classic pepperoni and cheese. After playing games until sunset and another great Moonup, the LODs Vivion and Isaac were revealed! Julian and Colin decided to go for the adventurous “cowboy camp” and slept outside with the moon and stars rather than in a tent. The rest of us then headed to our tents and to bed in preparation for our overnight rafting trip the next day.
The squad all woke up bright and early eager to get on the river and fueled up on some delicious protein pancakes and strawberries prepared by the LODs. We then loaded the van and headed down the river to whitewater raft. We stuffed our wet bags with the essentials, geared up, then loaded up the rafts! We went about 5 miles down the river and Graeme impressed all with his paddling skill and kept the boat’s energy up with his enthusiasm! We stopped for lunch after about 5 miles and soaked up the sun while munching on chips and guac followed by some absolutely bomb croissant deli sandwiches. The team was eager to get back out on the water and we rafted the rest of the afternoon away. Before stopping at our campsite for the evening, our guides surprised us by pulling off at “jumping rock”! All the kids braved the cold river and jumped in multiple times! Henry showed off his impressive canon ball, blowing us all away. Around the corner was our camp, tucked in a cove with some insane views of the mountains. The experts set up their tents in minutes per usual, then gathered up for multiple hours of Mafia! Everyone took turns hosting the game and the laughs could be heard down the river. Dinner was build your own burritos which filled everyone to the brim, but of course there is always room for dessert and we all had cookies provided by our awesome guides. We circled up for an early Moonup, talking until the sun set. Our next LODs, Ada and Henry were announced, praised for their encouragement on the river! Everyone was wiped from a full day in the sun, so we decided to head to bed in anticipation for another rafting session in the morning. We woke up to not a cloud in the sky, excited for a day involving eight class III rapids! The rapids proved to be everything they were hyped up to be, with the kids wishing we could raft into the sunset! Once back at Hecla Junction, more mafia was played along with some even more time in the river. After absolutely FIRE teriyaki pad Thai prepared by Ada and Henry, the crew enjoyed Moonup paired with s’mores and a toasty fire! LODs Eugenia and Graeme were chosen, and we all went to bed dreaming of our ropes course and zipline day!
Until Next Time,
Katie, Trip, and Kai
June 25, 2023
Hello Colorado Trail Families!
We just heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Denver! 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!