July 8, 2023
Our final Aloha!
Good morning and Happy Birthday America!!!!!!
We were all so excited for today, so we threw on some sunscreen and our U.S.A.-themed swimsuits and outfits. We hopped in the van and headed to our shore diving site for the day! After gearing up, we walked into the water to practice our skills and see some really cool endemic fish for our 1st and 2nd dives. Once we finished and logged our dives, we went to a nearby beach to celebrate the holiday! We laid out, made friendship bracelets, put on fun face paint, and listened to some patriotic music. Once we hung out here for a while, we then headed to Jack’s to grill some hotdogs and hamburgers. Shortly after, we headed down to one of the main streets to watch a 4th of July parade. There were so many cool things to see, including lots of floats and even some beach volleyball. We ended the night by watching a huge firework show before heading back to camp for another great Moonup.On day 11, we woke up for our last day of SCUBA certification! We headed to the diving shop to get ready for our final dives on the boat. Once we got there, we headed to our dive site—Garden Eel Cove! On our first dive of the day, we finished up the last of our skills and went on a short tour of the reef. Before going up, Kennedy and Caroline did some fun dances underwater for some awesome GoPro moments. Meanwhile, in another group, Lucy did a lot of backflips for us. Some people also got to see a sea turtle, an octopus, and a small nurse shark! We then ascended, ate lunch, and tanned for a little bit on the boat. Next, everyone planned out a dive for their instructors for their final dive. We jumped back in and toured all around the reef this time. This is where Anna pointed out a huge black and white trumpet fish and lots of other cool fish as well. We ascended and had a great boat drive back because we were finally certified! Once we logged our final dives, we headed over to the grocery store to grab stuff for dinner. Here, all the girls decided to start a parking lot dance party, and Mary Helen led us with her good dance moves! Afterward, we headed back to camp for a chill night. Emma really cracked us up with her funny impressions of the people we had met! We then closed the night with Moonup.
On day 11, we made sure we got some extra sleep and had a leisurely morning. We made some really good breakfast burritos, thanks to Cassidy’s help in the kitchen! After breakfast, we headed towards Hilo with a very scenic drive and stopped for some yummy snacks on the way. Once we got to Hilo, we hung out at a nice local beach where many of us attempted swinging from a cool rope swing. Once we were done here, we headed into town to check out local farmer’s markets, candy stores, and even the thrift store! This is where Gates got the great idea for everyone to buy matching pink blouses to wear for our special banquet dinner. It was such a fun look. We ate at a really good restaurant called Pineapples, where Leighton got a fun fruit punch served in a big pineapple! It was all so yummy! We also gave out some superlatives written on napkins for them to wear around their necks. Once we were done at dinner, we headed back towards camp. On our way back, we pulled over for a bathroom break and ended up finding a beautiful field on the top of a hill to watch the sunset on. We got some amazing photos and shared lots of laughs up here. We got back in the van, and then went to get some gas, which is where we had our glow stick parking lot party! We played some of our favorite songs and danced the night away. Kennedy, Elyse, and Olivia had the best time with the glowsticks and kept them moving the whole way back to camp where we ended the night with s’mores and our best Moonup of the trip. This night really brought us closer together.
On our last day, we got to sleep in again and then started to pack up camp. Audrey helped everyone take down their tents and once we were done packing, we said goodbye to our campsite. We then headed towards a local coffee shop for lunch in Kona. We hung out here for a while, and some girls even got matching sweatshirts! After this, we stopped by the grocery store for some final snack requests, then headed to a nearby beach. Here, we used this as a time of reflection and did our final Moonup where we all wrote letters to each other. We then headed to clean out the van before going to the airport and saying our goodbyes. We cannot thank you guys enough for sharing your daughters with us these past 2 weeks. We are SO thankful for all the memories we have gotten to make with them, and we know there is so much in store for them in the future!
Signing off with lots of love,
Gretchen, Avery, and Helen
July 4, 2023
Aloha from the BIG ISLAND!!!!
We finally got to start SCUBA!
On day 8, we woke up at our new campsite and hopped in the van to go meet Carlos, Jimmy, and Shannon at Jack’s Diving Locker! We spent some time in the classroom reviewing what we learned through eLearning and then practiced setting up our gear. Then, it was time for the pool! We separated into groups and worked on some beginner skills. Cassidy picked up these skills with ease and seemed to get the hang of everything so quickly! Once we finished up lunch and the rest of our skills for the day, we headed back to camp to get a head start on dinner. Audrey, Lucy, Olivia, and Emma helped in the kitchen to whip up some pizzas and salad, which were a big hit! After, we hung out in “Naptopia” and Kennedy told us some funny stories and had the whole group laughing. Once we started moonup, Mary Helen and Emma were LODs and came up with a really thoughtful question for us to discuss.
On day 9, we hopped back in the van to head back to Jack’s Diving Locker for day 2 of pool skills. The girls did so well today that they were finished by lunch time! Since we had some free time, we decided to get some ice cream around the block. Kennedy, Elyse, and Audrey opted for some fruity shaved ice while the rest of the group tried a gelato shop. Leighton was bold and tried the “Corn off the Cob” flavor, which, surprisingly, was apparently very tasty! Once we had hung out there for a while, we made a highly requested Target run where we got friendship bracelet supplies, and Anna taught Helen how to make some! We then called in dinner to Papa Kona, a local place, and took it to the harbour where we were going to do our Manta Ray Snorkel! After eating dinner, we learned some fun facts about manta rays. Gates made sure to ask some funny questions and request that we name the next Manta Ray after our favorite shaved ice shop: JoJo’s. We then got our snorkel gear and wet suits to head towards our snorkel site. On our boat ride out, we saw a huge pod of spinner dolphins right below us! They were jumping out of the water and were SO close to us. It was surely a highlight of the trip so far! Once we got to our site, we jumped in and got prepared to see some manta rays. We waited for a while and eventually we saw not only 1 manta ray but at least 3 or 4! They kept doing flip—and it was absolutely breath taking! Caroline was particularly excited to see them and was able to get pretty close to some of them. After this, we headed back to shore and then back to camp with a night that ended in moonup.
We can’t wait to see what the next few days has in store. Below are some shoutouts from your girls!!!
Helen, Gretchen, and Avery
Kennedy – Mom, I actually am going scuba diving. Please pray. It was fun though! I miss you and Dad both and can’t wait to come home 🙂
Lucy – hey I miss y’all! Roll tide! PS check my AP and ACT scores. Love you!
Caroline – Hey Mom, Dad, and Will – miss y’all so much and love y’all! Hope you’re staying lit!
Annarose – Hey family, hope you’re enjoying your European adventure! Miss you guys so much. Can’t wait to see you! Say hi to Dutch for me! Is my fish still alive?
Audrey – dear Mom and Dad, miss you so much! Can’t wait to see you. PS please check my AP Euro score
Cassidy – hi Mom, Dad, Kirby, and Joseph – miss you! Can’t wait to see you! Have fun on the 4th in Lake Bluff!
Olivia – hey guys! I miss y’all and I can’t wait to see you guys! My group is really fun and my leaders are really nice 🙂 tell Connor I can’t wait to see him!
Elyse – hi guys! Having so much fun! I miss Mom, Dad, Anna, and Oscar very much! See you guys soon! Love you!
MH – hey fam! Love and miss y’all so much! Roll tide! I can see Maui from here!
Emma – hey! I’m having so much fun! Miss you guys so much! Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! Can’t wait to see you guys soon. Tell Jack I say hi! Please don’t be late to the airport 🙂 love you!
Leighton – Hi y’all! I’m having a lot of fun! I’ve made so many friends. I can’t wait to see y’all in less than a week! Love y’all!
Gates – Hi! Miss y’all! 🙂
July 2, 2023
Once again, ALOHA!
We have been having some fun-filled days since we last updated you guys!
Day 4 had an early wake-up time, but it was so worth it! We drove to the other side of the island to Polihale State Park to sea kayak the famous Nā Pali coast! We partnered up in our sea kayaks, paddling strong over the swells. Our guides, Adam and Sadie, led us to Miloli’i Beach (which is only accessible via boat or helicopter!) where we got to enjoy some yummy sandwiches and Hawaiian drinks. On our paddle back, we were able to take a dip in the ocean. Elyse and Helen were the only two who took the opportunity, but it was fun to float! After paddling back, we hopped in the van, enjoyed some nice naps, and went back to our campsite. There, we immediately went to the beach to enjoy the waves and rays. Behind the scenes, our LODs, Lucy and Emma, helped us scheme a surprise dinner at a restaurant! We drove to Kapa’a to Monico’s Taqueria to enjoy some quesadillas, fajitas, and burritos. On our way home, we enjoyed yet another car jam sesh before wrapping up the day with a great Moonup.
Day 5 was a GREAT day! We headed back to Hanalei Bay to meet our surf instructors to catch some waves. We got to see our first double rainbow of the trip, which was exciting! Kennedy killed it, standing up without any help, and giving us lots of ~shakas~. Once we tired ourselves out, we headed up the road to Tunnels Beach, which is the beach where Bethany Hamilton learned how to surf again. To recharge, we stopped for local açaí bowls and burgers, which were SO good! Afterwards, we headed down to Lihue to start our zip-lining adventure. We got geared up in our harnesses and hopped in the truck to head towards our first couple of zip-lines. Audrey was one of the first to go for the upside-down move and impressed us all. Once we reached the end of our second zip line, it was time to go for a swim! Everyone eagerly waited in line to zip line into the swimming hole. Gates first did a back flop off of it, but then came back and succeeded with a back flip! After everyone dried off, we headed to our last zip line. We put on some new gear and got ready to do some superman flying. Caroline was so determined to go fast and keep good form that she sped past Gretchen to the end. After everyone was done, we hopped in the truck. We drove through a farm with cows all around and even saw a few rainbows through this drive. Once we got back to camp, we cooked a highly requested Mac and Cheese dinner and ended the day with another Moonup that helped us to grow a lot closer to one another.
On day 6, We headed towards the south side of the island for our community service section of the trip. We were going to a national botanical garden to help clean up the land so that it can continue to thrive. When we arrived, we had some time to kill, so we played a game called psychiatrist to pass the time. Olivia loved this game and had come up with some smart rules for us. Once it was time to help, we put on some garden gloves and bug spray and headed down into the botanical garden. Where we were was the exact spot where Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed! Our job here was to pick up any coconuts we saw and load them up into the back of trucks. This was a great day of growth and bonding, as many people were able to conquer the challenge of being around lots of bugs. During our breaks, the garden workers cracked us open some fresh coconuts for us to drink out of. It was so refreshing! Once we finished up here, we went back to camp for lunch on the beach. The girls were really looking forward to laying out and boogie boarding after our hard work. Leighton was back at the natural lazy river by our beach. She really loved it here and would ride down it repeatedly. After a while, we headed back to Hanalei bay to do some last minute shopping and a JoJo’s shaved ice stop for those that loved it so much. We then brought our cooking gear to the Hanalei Bay Beach to make breakfast sandwiches for dinner. We watched the sunset while eating dinner and played hot seat with everyone! Next, Anna led us in a fun photo shoot moment. After, Gates, Lucy, and Leighton walked down to a pier to jump off while Mary Helen got some good action shots. Meanwhile, Anna, Caroline, and Audrey went for a swim off the shore. We ended our hangout with a dance party, and a van concert led by Cassidy’s T-swift song requests for us. We drove around town and past Bethany Hamilton’s house and Alana Blanchard’s house to kill time so we wouldn’t have to end the night. Everyone was having such a fun time with each other, and once we got back, we wrapped up the fun day with another Moonup.
Day 7 is travel day! This morning, we got to sleep in a little bit before we cooked breakfast and packed up camp. Mary Helen and Olivia cooked pancakes for everyone which was one of our best breakfasts. After camp was cleaned up and we were all ready to go, we had time to stop at JAVA KAI for coffee and snacks. After we chilled out for a little bit, we headed to the Lihue airport. Our first flight was about 30 minutes to our layover in Honolulu where everyone was excited to get some Starbucks and candy for the next flight. We then flew 30 minutes to Kona and got our new fancy van that the girls were so excited about. We stopped at Walmart and picked up takeout food for dinner, and then we headed to our brand-new campsite. We are having so much fun with your girls and cannot wait for the next few days to come!
Gretchen, Helen, and Avery
June 28, 2023
We have been having such a blast in Hawaii so far!!! On day 1, our very first arrival was Elyse. She got here early, so we decided to take her grocery shopping with us. She was such a fun team player and told us all about how excited she was for this summer! Our next arrivals came in all around the same times a bit later, so we all hopped in the van to get some yummy local pizza form Scorpattiata for dinner. We ended the night with a fun Moonup and could tell this was going to be an awesome trip and an awesome group already.
Goooooood morning day 2! We started our day off bright and early for our drive to Kōkeʻe State Park for our 8-mile hike. Once we got there, everyone stretched, hydrated, and got hype. We got a little muddy, but that made it all the more fun. Once we reached the halfway point, everyone got to see one of the best views in the world, the Nāpali Coastline. This is where movies like Jurrasic park, King Kong, and Pirates of the Caribbean are filmed! On our way back up, Kennedy really killed the hike. She pushed herself hard and kept such a positive attitude the whole time until the finish line. Once we reached the end, everyone felt so accomplished. We hopped in the van to surprise the girls with Jojo’s Shaved Ice, and everyone was so excited. When we started to head back to camp, Anna started us off with some good music and a bumpin car ride. Mary Helen played Ice Ice Baby, and Cassidy played Our Song by Taylor Swift. These songs were hits, and everyone said this car ride jam made them feel more connected to each other. Once we got back to camp, we had a chill afternoon, Audrey helped to cook up the crowd-pleasing fajitas for dinner, and then we all had Moonup!
Day 3 means Shaka, it’s time to surf!!!!With the 7:30am surf crew, Emma was determined to surf without getting her hair wet. She managed to swim and surf for almost 2 hours, and her hair was completely dry by the end. Meanwhile, the other half of the group went into Hanalei to get some Hawaiian coffee. Olivia saw a cat outside that really seemed to like her. She sat and hung out with the cat and actually ended up finding the same one later that day which made us laugh. With the 9 am surf crew, Lucy was doing headstands on her board out in the water when she decided to try riding a wave while holding the headstand. She did it with ease! Not only were we astonished, but the instructors said they’ve never seen anyone hold it for as long as she did. It was truly impressive and we can’t wait to see it again on our next surf day! After surfing, we all headed to the Hanalei Bay shopping area. We cruised all around town and looked at lots of swimsuits and hats. Gates was eyeing a skateboard earlier that morning and was very determined to get one and ride it around, so she did! She rode it around the parking lot and everyone was so impressed by how good she was. Once we were done at Hanalei, we went back to camp to eat some lunch, which was charcuterie board. We then got ready to do our service for the day. The girls got into pairs and spread out around camp to help out in any ways they could. Once they were done, Leighton and Lucy found a “lazy river” water area to swim in and they told us all about it. After the chill afternoon on the beach, we got ready for dinner. Caroline was on cook crew and she helped to cook our really tasty chicken and veggie stir fry. After dinner, we got ready for Moonup, where there was lots of laughter! It was such a fun day, and we went to bed early for our exciting morning to come!!
It has been nothing short of great the past few days, and there’s so much more to come. We cannot wait!
Gretchen, Helen, and Avery
June 26, 2023
Hello Hawaiian Island Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Hawaii! 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!