June 23, 2023
Our incredible trip has officially come to an end, and we can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness. As first-year leaders, we can confidently say that your kids made this experience truly unforgettable, leaving a great mark on our hearts. The last two days were particularly special, and we found ourselves growing even closer than before.
On Wednesday morning, we embarked on our final early morning wake-up call and set out for an exhilarating sea kayaking adventure at Makena Beach. Sea kayaking holds a special place in our hearts as our guide, Griff, is a past Moondance leader and the reason why your kids had the privilege of joining this trip. Griff, a local from Maui, possesses an extensive knowledge of the island, making the sea kayaking experience all the more remarkable. Together, we explored the beautiful south side of the island, learning fascinating insights about its history, culture, and marine life. We also had the chance to indulge in some exceptional snorkeling. After our kayaking excursion, we headed to a local food stop, where the girls savored delightful Açaí bowls while the boys enjoyed some delicious pizzas.
Our next destination was Pono Grown Farms, a sustainable farm nestled in the heart of Maui. Owned by Evan and his wife, also a former Moondance leader, this remarkable farm even serves as a Moondance Maui Campsite. We began by assisting Evan in tending to the land, pulling weeds surrounding his bean pole plants. Maggie, Margaret, and Shaffer were a tremendous help in this task. Following our work, Evan graciously gave us a tour of the farm, introducing us to the various plants under his care. We even had the opportunity to contribute to Evan’s efforts by potting seeds that would sprout in approximately two weeks. MayMay and Sunday showed great dedication in carefully placing the seeds in their designated trays. After our hard work, Evan surprised the kids with a special treat. We made our way to the chicken coop and engaged in a lively game of “chicken roundup.” Parham emerged as the winner by catching the first chicken, an achievement that required quite some effort and resulted in plenty of laughter. But the fun didn’t stop there! Evan had constructed a massive water slide on his property, leading into a small swimming well. This activity turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of our entire trip, with the kids having an absolute blast. Eliza fearlessly went down the slide in every imaginable way, while Wells propelled himself with astonishing speed all the way to the bottom. Eloise, Lizzy, and MayMay formed a train as they descended together. We shared countless laughs while lounging in the swimming hole, and Margaret had an incredible time catching tadpoles.
As the day drew to a close, we prepared for our final banquet. We headed to Goodwill and encouraged the kids to choose a funky outfit for the occasion. The outfit selections were nothing short of hilarious, and we found ourselves unable to contain our laughter. Evan and Henry stood out with their particularly remarkable outfits, eliciting laughter from the entire group. Dressed like clowns, we ventured into the town of Lahaina and returned to the pizza restaurant that the boys had discovered a few days earlier. It was a joyous evening filled with reminiscing about the incredible memories we had made throughout the trip.
Sadly, this morning arrived, and it was time for us to bid farewell. We headed to the airport, where we enjoyed some delicious Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Emotions ran high as we said our goodbyes, and there were certainly not many dry eyes. We genuinely had the best trip ever, and we are incredibly grateful for this extraordinary experience.
Thank you for everything, Ben, Gretchen, and Ricky
June 21, 2023
The days are dwindling, but the energy continues to build! This group is super special, and we are so proud as leaders to see the relationships formed during the past two weeks. After conquering the ocean for ten days, the kids missed civilization, and we decided to hit the town! We headed fifteen minutes up the road to the town of Lahaina. This seaside town is the perfect Hawaiian hotspot for local restaurants, souvenir shops, and surf apparel. We gave the kids the freedom to roam the town and discover the wonders of Lahaina. Eloise, MayMay, Maggie, and Lizzie hit the shops quickly and picked out some matching necklaces! Henry and Evan discovered a vintage Maui T-Shirt clothing store that offered collector items Maui shirts. The entire group ended up buying a shirt from here as they were very unique. Sunday, Eliza, and Margaret got henna tattoos that look great and complete the Hawaiian vibe! All the girls got their hair braided, and they looked like quite the squad. Shaffer, Parham, Henry, Wells, and Evan discovered a cool pizza place selling delicious deep dishes. The other kids indulged in some more Dole Whip and shaved ice. After a full day of shopping, the kids were hungry and tired. We decided to venture to a local Thai restaurant that offers some of the best Thai food on the island. The kids especially enjoyed the Thai Fried Rice and Orange Chicken.
The following morning, we started our day VERY early for the highly anticipated Red Line Rafting Snorkeling Tour. The kids were so excited, and although it was super early in the morning, their energy was great. We chartered our boat and headed out to sea. We embarked upon the Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcanic crater that offers some of the best snorkeling in the world! We put our snorkels and fins on and hopped in. The kids were instantly in awe as they submerged in the water and realized how blue it was! There were fish EVERYWHERE, and the coral was amazing. Margaret, Parham, and Shaffer swam along the entire crater and saw some pretty cool things. We all headed back onto the boat and journeyed over to the other side of the crater. The back wall of the crater sits above water that is 250 feet deep, and while the waves come in, it creates an anomaly that the locals call the “Hawaiian Elevator.” While riding the elevator, the waves push you 20 feet up the wall, creating the Hawaiian Rollercoaster ride. Sunday and Eliza had so much fun on the elevator. Next, we headed across the ocean, and the conditions made it quite bumpy. The kids enjoyed riding in the boat and hitting some pretty fun waves.
We ended at our final stop, called Turtle Town. This spot is home to an abundant amount of Green Sea Turtles as they thrive off feeding off the rocks here. We hopped in and instantly saw so many turtles. At one point, we watched as three turtles swam in synchrony. We wrapped up with lunch on the boat and headed back to shore. We had a few hours to spare and headed to Baldwin Beach. The kids enjoyed taking a long nap under the sun and playing in the waves. We ended our day attending a Hawaiian cooking class. We arrived at Living Earth Systems Farms, a beautiful farm at the base of the mountains. The farm owner led us in a sacred native chant as we entered the farm. We walked through fields of Mango Trees, Beets, Carrots, Coconuts, Pineapple, and various other fruits and vegetables. We harvested a lot of things that we would later slice up on the table. The farm owner taught us all about regenerative farming and all the benefits that farming can offer. We gathered back at a beautiful table in the middle of the farm, and the owner began serving a variety of Mangos, Starfruit, and Pineapples. He assured us the Mangos would be the best we ever tried, and he was correct. Maggie and Henry especially enjoyed the Mango. Next, we were treated to an exceptional farm-to-table meal. We were served local farm-raised chicken, a shaved green papaya salad, and blue pea flower rice. The rice was served with a homemade coconut cream that the kids assisted in making. After a delicious meal, we were led into a field where we listened to indigenous stories and star-gazed.
The next morning, we had another early day and geared up for stand-up paddle boarding. The conditions were perfect, and we had a great time paddling. Our guide even shared many stories about his time treasure hunting in the ancient regions of the Iao Valley in Maui. Next, we headed back to camp and prepared for the Olympics. The Olympics is a once-a-session event where all three Maui groups come together, and we all compete in different games. Our kids were pumped and couldn’t wait to compete. After painting up and wearing all-white clothing, we were ready for the other teams to arrive. The competition was high, and the kids dominated in Whiffle Ball, Water Ballon Tosses, and Soccer. Although we didn’t win every game, the kids had a great time and enjoyed meeting the other kids. We all gathered for some hot dogs and met some new people. We ended the day with Ice Cream and Moonup in Lahaina. We are sad that we only have one more day in Maui with the kids, but we will soak up every moment. We aren’t ready to say goodbye!!
June 19, 2023
Aloha Families! We can’t believe our first session is more than halfway over, and we aren’t ready for this trip to be over! We had the best three days! Thursday morning, we geared up and got ready for a full day with the help of our leaders of the day, Sunday and Evan. We hopped in the van and got ready for a two-hour drive to Rappel Maui for an incredible day of rappelling in the breathtaking Garden of Eden. We traveled along the famous road to Hana, leading us through the lush rainforest and rushing waterfalls. We arrived at the beautiful Garden of Eden and strapped into our harnesses to prepare for rappelling. The guides walked us through the surreal scenery and pointed out spots where the original Jurassic Park was filmed! We embarked upon our first rappelling cliff. It was a 55-foot cliff that would ease us into our more challenging drops. Despite the nerves from most of the group, everyone overcame their fear and crushed this first challenge. We descended into our next ledge, a 65-foot drop into a beautiful waterfall pool. The nerves started to kick in a little bit, but one by one, the kids rose to the challenge and scaled the waterfall walls. Parham overcame his nerves very quickly and scaled the falls like the most confident guy in the world. Maggie was fearless and soared down without a care in the world. The third and final rappel allowed the kids to rappel through the waterfall. After swimming in the waterfall pools, we stopped by a little cafe in Hana where the kids picked up everything from hotdogs to strawberry lemonades. We returned to camp and tie-dyed shirts while the Leaders of the Day started to help prepare dinner.
The next morning, we had to wake up bright and EARLY to begin our first day of surfing. Our guides explained the basics, and we were good to shred some waves. Everyone made this look super easy. The waves were at an excellent height for beginners, and the entire group started riding some great waves. Margaret is a natural-born surfer and made surfing look way too easy. She was cruising off the bat. Lizzie was just as skilled for someone who hadn’t been surfing. Wells put his Charleston surfing techniques into practice and showed everyone up as he shredded some gnar. Not only were we swimming with our entire group, but everywhere you looked, a sea turtle was right under you. Although the waves weren’t HUGE, the kids made the best of the situation and took on many waves. After a great surfing day, we returned to camp, ate sandwiches, and put our bathing suits on to hit the beach. We decided to go to Napili Bay which was put in the top ten of the world’s prettiest beaches. We hung out for a long time, and the girls were excited to maximize their tan.
May May, Eloise, and Lizzy were excited about their tanning time and laid on the beach for hours. Parham and Ben played with a skip ball for hours and had a great time! After the beach, we stopped to check out the Nakehele Blowhole, which blew us away! The natural rainbows and dramatic cliffs were stunning. We came home for dinner and prepared Chili and Grilled Cheese. Margaret and Wells did a fantastic job as Leaders of The Day. Saturday morning, we had to wake up early again for another great day of surfing lessons. We met with our same guides and headed out on the water. Everyone was riding some pretty big waves. Parham and Shaffer were surfing any wave that would come to them! May May, Eloise, and Lizzy had a fantastic time and surfed on the same board together. Sunday and Margaret would head out far and try to catch the bigger wave they could see. After everyone had become pro surfers, we went back to camp and prepared a pancake lunch. While on a drive the night before, we spotted a very private beach in a beautiful bay. Today, we traveled to the beach and journeyed down a beautiful, lush trail until we hit the electric blue water. Evan and Henry pulled out the snorkel gear and made their way around the bay, pointing out fish and other marine life. We ended the day with some quesadillas and an ice cream stop in Lahaina. We never want this trip to end and saying goodbye to these kids is going to be super hard!
Evan- Thank you for sending me on this very cool trip.
Henry- Thank you for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip!
Sunday- hi guys. Thank you so much for sending me here. I’m having the best time. I’m so excited to see you guys. Say hi to Faith for me. Love you guys
Shaffer- Thank you Mom and Dad for sending me on this trip. I’ve had so much fun and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Lizzie- thank you for allowing me to go on this trip and have such an amazing experience. Can’t wait to see y’all!
May May- thank you so much for sending me on this trip. I had so much fun and cant wait to tell you all about it.
Margaret-hey guys, I miss you so much but I’m having the best time and I’ve met the best friends for life. thank you so much for sending me on this trip.
Eliza- thank you for letting me experience this opportunity. I miss you and I’ll see you soon. Love you.
Maggie- thank y’all so much for giving me this opportunity. I’m having the best time and meeting the best friends I can’t wait to see you all and tell you all about it.
Wells- thank you so much for sending me on this trip. I love you and can’t wait to see y’all again.
Parham- thank you for letting me go on this amazing trip. Can’t wait to see y’all soon. Love y’all.
Eloise- thank you for sending me on this trip and letting me meet the best people. I love you so much and can’t wait to see you.
June 15, 2023
Hello, Hello Maui family and friends!!!
The last two days have been a blast! Tuesday morning, we woke up bright and early, and our Leaders of The Day, Eliza and Parham, helped us prepare breakfast burritos with eggs, bacon, salsa, and avocado! After fueling up, we headed to the beach and set sail for Windsurfing! We split up into groups of threes, and were paired with some excellent windsurfing guides! After going over the basics of windsurfing, we headed out and embarked on our adventure. The winds were rough to learn, but the kids powered through. Although it took the entire lesson for the kids to pick it up, they were cruising by the end of the day! Sunday and Margaret were naturals and picked it up off the bat! It was super fun watching them glide through the waves. We headed back to camp for some sandwiches and geared up for the beach. The kids had all been talking about cliff jumping since the beginning of the trip, so we decided to surprise them and take them to Black Rock Cliffs. These 20 feet rocks make for an incredible thrill and plunge you into crystal clear water. Every single kid was super brave and jumped off the cliff! We even had a rainbow in the distance as we jumped. Eliza and Lizzy especially enjoyed this activity and jumped multiple times. We spent the rest of the day floating in the waves, tossing the football, and playing games in the sand!
For dinner, we prepared some amazing stir fry and had a special treat in store for the kids after! We packed into the van and headed to the town of Lahaina, where we stopped at the famous Lahaina Ice Cream Parlor. The kids were overjoyed and picked everything from artisan Ice Cream to Dole Whip and Shaved Ice! Eloise was incredibly excited about the Dole Whip as she had expressed her love for pineapples many times. We ended the day with a Moonup in the park of Lahaina and headed back to camp for some well-deserved rest.
Wednesday morning, we woke up super early. Evan and MayMay did a great job as the Leaders of the Day and excited everyone for another day of wind surfing. We journeyed back to the beach and met up with our same guides from the day before. Everyone was super eager to put their newly learned skills into practice. This morning was beautiful! The wind wasn’t too rough, and the sun was shining bright! Everyone was looking like pros on the board! Maggie and Lizzy sailed out past the cove and caught some pretty great winds. After two more hours, we wrapped things up and had a picnic by the beach to fuel us up for our next activity. After a beautiful drive through the mountains and a scenic ocean view, we arrived at the Waihee Ridge Trailhead. This hike was insane and had BEAUTIFUL views. This hike was not easy, but the kids did fantastically.
It started challengingly with a steep incline, but the good attitudes kept everyone going. We also stopped for a few photo ops along the way! With mountain ridges ahead of us and the deep blue Pacific Ocean behind us, we were surrounded by some incredible views. Shaffer, Wells, Lizzy, Evan, and Henry led and cruised to the top. They didn’t even want to stop for a break! The entire group met up at the top, surrounded by clouds. This hike was STEEP, but the kids crushed it, and we were super proud of them. We headed to Flemings Beach for some very much-needed beach showers. On the way back from showers, we found a fantastic overlook and finished the day with dinner at camp. These past two days were full of some fantastic experiences and moments that the kids will never forget! We are so happy with this group and love their dynamic. We can’t wait for the adventures to come!
-Gretchen, Ben, and Ricky
Lizzie- Hey! I miss y’all so much. Thank you for sending me on this trip. Tell Turner and Helen I love them!
Margaret- Hey guys I’m having a really fun trip. Tells Wells I hope he has fun at camp and I miss him.
Sunday- Hi guys! I really miss you but I’m having so much fun on this trip. Thank you so much for sending me!!! Tell Faith hey!
Eliza- Hi! Miss y’all. Thank you for sending me on the trip. Love y’all! Tell Maggie, MB, and Ranger I say hey.
Maggie- Hi y’all! I miss you especially Micah. It’s so pretty here can’t wait to tell y’all about it! Tell Taylor I miss her. I’m having so much fun!
Wells- Hey Mom and Das. Having a great time. Love y’all. Tell Addie I miss her!
MayMay- Hi Mom and Dad. I miss y’all. I’m having so much fun. Miss you! We have such a great group.
Eloise- Hey y’all I miss you so much. Love everyone in my group. Having so much fun and can’t wait to see you! Love y’all!
Parham-Hey I’m having really fun at camp! Love y’all!
Shaffer- Hey I hope y’all are having fun with Eleanor in Germany! Thanks again for letting me come here. Miss and love y’all!
Evan- Hi! Miss you. I’m excited to see y’all soon! Love you. I’m having fun.
Henry- Hey miss you guys! I’m having so much fun. Don’t worry about me.
June 13, 2023
Aloha! We are having an incredible time in Maui and can’t believe we have only had two full days of activities. Airport day was super successful, and the kids did great. As they waited patiently for later arrivals, we spent a few hours playing games and getting to know each other. Once the final students arrived, we hopped into the van, picked up pizza, and embarked to our beautiful campsite at Maui Prep. Maui Prep is a local day school, and we are lucky to stay on the soccer field, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean! The kids ate their pizza, experienced their first Moonup, and settled in for their first night in the tents! The kids woke up very early the next day and were eager to start their day. Shaffer and Maggie were our first Leaders of The Day and helped us prepare bagels and oatmeal for the group! Our first activity was at Maui Cultural Lands, a beautiful indigenous-owned farm in the heart of Maui. Ekolu, who is a local Hawaiian and the son of the owner of the farm, led us for the day along with his wife, Lisa, and mother! Maui Cultural Lands is a stunning farm nestled in the mountains with a vibrant history. Ekolu and his mother led the kids in a traditional chant and began to take us to the farm. After a talk about the Hawaiian culture, we started to get ready to give back to the island and help Ekolu service his farm. Ekolu had many invasive weeds surrounding the river of the farm. The kids went headfirst into the service project and started to get their hands dirty! We spent almost two hours pulling weeds, and the kids did great! Sunday, Margaret, Eliza, and Wells did a great job leading the group and pushed themselves as they pulled out many weeds!
After two hours of hard work, Ekolu continued to guide us through the farm allowing the kids to try various fruits, such as Guava! We wrapped up with a conversation about the history of the farm and headed back to Maui Prep. After lunch, we headed to Flemings Beach for a well-deserved swim in the ocean! The kids enjoyed catching some waves and playing football in the ocean! Eloise and MayMay did a great job organizing group games for everyone to play at the beach. Evan and Henry showed off their football skills while we played Jackpot in the water! We spent a few more hours soaking up the sun and exploring one of Maui’s most popular beaches. We headed back to camp to start prepping our first dinner! Shaffer and Maggie did a great job helping us prepare tacos. Monday morning, we woke up and decided to make pancakes for breakfast to fuel up for a big day of zip-lining. Wells and Lizzie were our leaders of the day, and they brought the energy! They decided to make blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes, which were a hit with the group! We embarked on our zipline adventure, and the kids were very excited. After gearing up, our guides drove us in a van into the beautiful mountains, where we strapped up to soar through the sky! Eliza was super eager to start ziplining and was the first one to get on the line! She and Gretchen had a great time flying through the mountains together! Parham was also an eager flyer and ensured he was the fastest going down each line! In total, we trekked on six lines that took us over many lush valleys with spectacular ocean views. Eloise, Shaffer, and Lizzie were excited to capture the entire experience on their GoPros! After a day in the sky, we spent the rest of the day at Slaughterhouse Beach! This beach blew the whole group away from the very start. After a long walk down, we were greeted by a spectacular beach with crystal-clear water tucked into a beautiful cove. The kids wasted no time, and we were in the water immediately! After only five minutes of swimming, we spotted our first sea turtle of the trip, and the kids were super excited. Sunday, Margaret and Eliza took the big waves head-on and were body-surfing for hours. Shaffer made sure to capture the entire experience on his camera. We wish we could have stayed at this beach forever! We returned to Maui Prep, where a fantastic sunset awaited our arrival. Wells and Lizzie got to cooking tortellini with pesto. We ended our spectacular day with Moonup and Chocolate Chip Cookies. We have had such a great two days and can’t wait for what’s in store for the rest of the trip!
-Gretchen, Ben, and Ricky
June 11, 2023
Hello Maui Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Maui! 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!