July 9, 2023
We can’t begin to explain how sad we are this session has come to an end, but the group absolutely made the most of their final days together. On Thursday, we woke up early for a morning of paddleboarding. We paddled in stunningly blue waters around coral reefs where we could see all of the fish underneath us. Once we got into deeper waters, we played a game of Last Man Standing, in which Chloe came out victorious, stealthily defeating her final opponents, Cully and Ella N. We then paddled back to shore and back to camp to make brunch. Owen, Ella N., and Palmer worked together to make bacon, egg, and cheese bagels for everyone, and they were delicious! After we ate, we went to Lahaina to spend the day exploring the shops in this beachside town. The girls shopped around and then stopped for pizza at Lahaina Pizza Co., where Elizabeth left the group entertained with hilarious stories from home. The boys also went to the pizza place and walked into every possible store they could, racking up some super cool local t-shirts as souvenirs. After we left, the group made a stop at Safeway to prepare for the dinner of the trip: Iron Chef. We held a boys versus girls cooking competition, where they bought ingredients and worked together as a team to cook a meal that would impress the judges (the leaders). Due to a desire for secrecy, both groups ended up cooking spaghetti bolognese, and so it ended up being a spaghetti competition more than anything else. Both meals tasted impressively good, and the girls took first place overall because of their sauce, noodles, and presentation. Blake, Katy, and Ella G. led the team in this win! However, the boys were very hospitable to the judges, going the extra mile to make sure the judges were enjoying their experience. Once the competition concluded, we had one of our best Moonups yet, led by our great Leaders of the Day, Mason and Ella G.!
On the morning of our final full day, we woke up extra early for one of our favorite activities of the entire trip, a snorkel tour with Redline Rafting! After a quick breakfast of cinnamon rolls and fruit, we boated out to Molokini Crater, a volcanic crater off the coast of Maui where the water is unbelievably clear. The kids got to play in a special wave in which the tide pushes the water vertically rather than horizontally called the Elevator! We stopped at four different spots, checking out various coral reefs and species of fish along the way. Charlie especially loved the boat rides to each spot and had a ton of fun flying over the waves. We then had lunch on the boat, hanging out and reminiscing on the past two weeks before heading back to the shore. After our tour was over, we headed to Baldwin Beach for one last beach day before the trip ended. We laid in the sand and played in the water, enjoying each other’s company and relaxing after waking up super early that morning. Carter, Owen, and Cully had fun listening to music and hanging out on the beach while Palmer, Mason, and the girls were in the waves. Once the afternoon started coming to an end, we went to Goodwill to pick out the craziest outfits we could find for our final Banquet dinner. The girls rocked some Hawaiian shirts while the boys found some interesting pieces in the women’s section, and once everyone was dressed we embarked to a local restaurant called My Thai Maui. The kids enjoyed orange chicken, fried rice, noodles, and more as they cracked each other up with their outfits and took turns telling their favorite memories from the trip. We came back to the campsite after dinner for a celebratory cake and one final Moonup. The next morning, we had a breakfast feast of fruit, Chick-Fil-A chicken minis, and Krispy Kreme donuts. We then packed and cleaned up camp and hung out for a while before getting lunch at Flatbread Pizza Co. in the town of Paia as our farewell meal before the airport. The goodbyes were definitely the most difficult part of the entire trip, but the memories and friendships that have been made over the past two weeks make all of the sadness worth it! It was a very bittersweet ending to our trip, as we could not have asked for a better group. These kids are so fun, kind, hilarious, and special and we as leaders feel so lucky to have had the chance to experience this with them!
Gretchen and Ricky
July 6, 2023
We are having the best time ever with this group! After bagels for breakfast, we had our first day of surfing lessons at Kalama Park, which was super fun as we got to ride waves while surrounded by sea turtles! Palmer and Charlie were the first ones up and showed the rest of us how it’s done. The others quickly followed suit and soon everyone in the group was shredding! Afterwards, we came back to camp for lunch before our service project at our campsite, Pono Grown Farms. Evan, who runs the farm, talked to us about the importance and impact of farming before getting us started on various jobs. Ella N., Ella G., Palmer, and Cully had a blast putting soil in plants to prepare them to be seeded. Katy, Chloe, and Blake then put seeds in each of the pots and moved them to the greenhouse. Mason, Elizabeth, Charlie, Owen, and Carter worked hard at planting cucumbers, laughing the entire time. After we were done farming, we headed up to the chicken coop to play a game of Who Can Catch the First Chicken. Elizabeth impressed the group and quickly won! We then got to go down an awesome waterslide that Evan had made on his land. The kids had a blast on this, going down in trains. This was definitely well-deserved after an afternoon of hard work! As the afternoon wrapped up, we cooked orange chicken and white rice for dinner before going into town for an ice cream stop!
The next day, to start off our Fourth of July, we woke up bright and early for some sea kayaking and snorkeling. We kayaked through beautiful blue waters to a reef nearby and got the chance to see some amazing wildlife, including five massive sea turtles and all different kinds of fish. This snorkeling was super cool, and everyone loved it! Afterwards, we made a quick stop at Walmart for some Fourth of July decor before heading back to camp to make paninis for lunch. After lunch, we had the highly anticipated Maui Olympics, which is where all the Maui Moondance groups come together to play various games against each other. We got decked out in our team color (red), as well as Fourth of July accessories, and headed up to another campsite, Maui Preparatory Academy, for the Olympics. The group had a ton of fun meeting the other kids and playing games like Birdie on a Perch (a Moondance favorite) and soccer. Ella N., Ella G., Carter, and Palmer even came out victorious in Birdie on a Perch! For dinner, all the groups grilled hotdogs together and hung out while watching the sunset. After a great evening, we headed back to camp for Moonup before going to bed.
The next morning, we had our second day of surfing, and although the conditions weren’t as great, we had just as much fun! After about two hours of playing in the water and catching an occasional wave, we stopped at a food truck lot for lunch. The kids got everything from acai bowls to pad thai and enjoyed all of it! We then drove up to the west side of Maui to Fleming beach where we spent most of the afternoon. Elizabeth and Owen explored the rocks and watched the fishermen while Katy, Blake, Chloe Ella N., and Ella G. got some sun and played in the ocean. Once the kids were beached out, we checked out the Nakelele Blowhole, a natural geyser hidden in the cliffs. This was an amazing sight to see and blew all of us away! We explored around the blowhole and found some really cool rock structures that the kids had a lot of fun climbing on. Charlie led the group to the very top of a particularly high rock and looked like the king of the world! Cully, Palmer, and Owen quickly joined him and the four of them had a blast looking down at the water around them. Afterwards, we drove back to camp, but first stopped at a local farm’s kitchen for some lemonade and Maui’s famous banana bread. This was delicious and hit the spot after a long day at the beach! We headed back to camp for a BBQ sandwich and mac and cheese dinner, which Cully, Palmer, Owen, and Carter made a lot more fun to prepare. They had the whole group laughing for hours. We ended the night with a great Moonup led by Mason and Ella G. before heading to bed. We love this group so much and are so sad we have to let them go in just a couple short days!
-Gretchen and Ricky
P.S. Here are some words of appreciation from our amazing students!
Katy- Thank you for letting me come on this trip! It’s so fun and I cant wait to tell you all about it! Mahaloooo!
Ella N- Thank you so much for sending me to Maui. I love my leaders and I can’t wait to tell you about it when I get back!
Ella G- Thank you so much for letting me go on this trip. It made for the best summer ever! Can’t wait to see you guys when I get home!
Mason- Thank you for letting me come on this trip! I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to tell you about it!
Charlie- Thank you for letting me go to Maui. This trip is awesome and I’ll tell you all about when I get back!
Palmer- Thank you so much for letting me come on this trip! I’m having a great time and it’s so fun. Can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!
Cully- Mahalo for letting me come on this trip! Ricky and Gretchen are the best! Can’t wait to tell you guys about it.
Owen- Mahalo!!! I’m having so much fun and am very excited to see you guys and tell you all about it.
Carter- Hey Mom and Dad! Thank you for letting me come on this trip. I’m having a blast and can’t wait to see y’all.
Blake- Thank you so much for letting me come on this trip! I’m having so much fun and can’t wait to see you guys!
Elizabeth- Aloha Mom and Dad! Thank you so much for letting me come on this trip. I have so much to tell you, can’t wait to see you soon. Mahalo!
Chloe- Thank you for sending me on this trip!! Can’t wait to see you!
July 3, 2023
Things are continuing to go amazing here in Maui! On Saturday, we headed up to the west side of the island for some zip-lining. This was a highly anticipated activity which definitely lived up to our expectations! With six lines over deep lush valleys and a walk on Hawaii’s highest free-standing bridge, the views were stunning and exhilarating. Cully and Owen were especially excited, and raced each other down every line, absolutely flying through the air. Afterwards, we came back to camp and made some delicious chicken Caesar wraps for lunch. These definitely hit the spot after a long morning of zip-lining! For the rest of the afternoon, the group hung out at camp and played various games of spike ball, frisbee and whiffle ball. Mason continued to dominate in spike ball and couldn’t be beat! For dinner, we had spaghetti and meatballs, another crowd favorite, and then enjoyed some cookies and starbursts for dessert. On Sunday morning, we drove into the beautiful Honokowai Valley for a service project with Maui Cultural Lands. Our guide, Ekolu, who runs this organization with his mother, works together to restore and conserve some of Maui’s most stunning landscapes. After a short hike into the valley, the group got right to work, removing various invasive species and learning about the history of the land. Ella N, Charlie, and Blake excelled at this and worked hard to help Ekolu determine which plants needed to be removed. After we were finished, we learned about various different plants native to Maui and what they are used for. Katy and Elizabeth even got special handmade leis and bracelets made from native tea leaves! We then headed into the town of Paia for a much needed and well-deserved lunch at one of the leaders’ favorite spots on the island, Paia Fish Market. The kids all enjoyed tacos, fried shrimp, and burgers after a hard morning of working in the woods. After we finished eating, the group explored the town for a while, checking out various shops. Chloe, Ella G, Blake, and Ella N. got some awesome Maui merch that they were excited to show the group! We ended the afternoon by all getting matching henna tattoos, and Carter and Cully got extra ones on their arms that they were very proud of. We came back to camp and Ella G., Ella N., Palmer, and Cully cooked dinner for the group, which was quesadillas! After hanging out for a while in the eno village and Moonup, we headed to bed to rest up for tomorrow! We can’t believe we are over halfway through this trip, time really does fly when you’re having fun!
-Gretchen and Ricky
Chloe- Hi Mom and Dad! I am having so much fun. Love and miss you!
Charlie- Hey Mom and Dad! I’m doing great! Tell Merzie I say I love you and tell T to have fun in Spain and to work hard at speaking Spanish. Tell her that I am so proud. I love you guys and I will see you soon!
Mason- Hi Mom and Dad! I’ve been having fun! Pet Duke for me. Love you.
Owen- Hi! I’m doing good and having fun. Hope you’re having fun in London. Palmer says hi to Aidan. Love you guys!
Cully- Hi Mom and Dad! I’m having fun. Gretchen and Ricky are the best. Say hello to Henry and William for me. Love and miss you!
Blake- Hi Mom and Dad! I love and miss you guys so much. Say hi to everyone for me. I’m having so much fun and can’t wait to see you in a week!
Ella N.- Hey Mom and Dad I love and miss you so much. Tell Lila, Sav, Molly, Leena, Mere, Rae, Lucy, Kayra, Alana, Georgia, Campbell, and Kenzie I miss them and cant wait to see them when I get back. I’m having so much fun with my leaders!
Ella G.- Hey Mom and Dad. I am having so much fun at camp. Say hey to Archie and Ceaser. Love you.
Carter- Hi Mom and Dad. I miss you and am having a lot of fun and can’t wait to see you. My counselors are awesome. Love you!
Katy- Hey Mom and Dad!!! I am having so much fun and cant wait to tell you all all about it!! Tell everyone I said hi!! Also my leaders are awesome!!! Love y’all so much!!
Palmer- Hi Mom and Dad! Love and miss you. How is Emma? I’m having so much fun.
Elizabeth- Hi Mom and Dad! I miss and love you and hope you’re having a lot of fun on your trip. Can’t wait to see you soon!
July 2, 2023
We are having a great time here in beautiful Maui! Today, we spent the day at Black Rock Cliffs Beach, a cove on the west side of the island that hosts some of the nicest hotels Maui has to offer. Its main attraction is cliff-jumping, as it has a cliff that we were able to climb up and jump off into crystal clear waters! All of the kids loved this activity and jumped several times! Carter, Blake, and Palmer led the pack and showed the group how it was done before the rest followed suit.
After cliff-jumping, we hung out at the beach and enjoyed the sun. Charlie, Katy, Ella N. and Ella G. took the snorkels out and saw all kinds of fish and even a few sea turtles! Around lunch time, we headed back to camp to get prepared for our cooking class with Maui Fresh Chef. This class was absolutely amazing! We began with a tour of the coffee farm where it was located and learned all about its history and methods to grow some of Maui’s best coffee beans. Then, we began the cooking by making some delicious fresh summer rolls. Katy and Chloe were great assistant chefs and helped each person build and roll their own. After enjoying these, we moved on to our main course, stuffed vegetable bao buns and tofu fried rice. Elizabeth was a pro at making the bao buns and they turned out amazing!! Cully, Owen, and Mason took charge of the tofu fried rice, making sure everyone had various sauces to try with it. Everyone loved all of the food, even those who had never tried anything like it before!
After a great dinner, we headed back to camp to play some games before Moonup. We have loved watching this group come out of their shells and get closer as a whole and can’t wait to see what the second week has in store for us!
-Gretchen and Ricky
July 2, 2023
We have had an amazing start to our trip! After everyone arrived safely in Maui, we picked up pizza for dinner and headed to our campsite to get settled. The next morning, we woke up bright and early for our first activity, rappelling! After a beautiful drive up the Road to Hana, the group arrived in the Garden of Eden. We summited down three different cliffs, two of which were waterfalls that led to beautiful pools of crystal-clear water at the bottom. All of the kids did great, and we were especially proud to see Elizabeth conquer her fear of heights and effortlessly glide down the cliffs like a pro!
Afterwards, we had a quick lunch at a local food truck before heading to the beach. We had a well-deserved relaxing afternoon at Baldwin Beach, and then headed back to camp for dinner. Our Leaders of the Day, Charlie and Katy, did a stellar job of breaking the ice within the group and organizing a game of manhunt while our dinner of pesto tortellini was being cooked. The next day, we had another early morning, this time for our first day of windsurfing! Windsurfing is a tough sport to learn, and we were very impressed by all of the kids’ natural abilities to pick it up so quickly! Charlie and Cully blew the group away from the start and immediately looked like pros on the water.
After our lesson we stopped by camp for a quick sandwich lunch before hitting the beach again! Mason, Carter, and Palmer played several high-skilled games of Spike-ball while Chloe and Blake took advantage of the sun and got their tan on. The whole group took a walk down the beach to find two massive sea turtles napping on the shore and about ten more swimming right in front of us! This was an amazing sight to see and the perfect welcome to the island! We eventually headed back to camp and made a crowd-favorite dinner- BBQ sandwiches and mac and cheese! The kids played a camp-wide game of Capture the Flag, which was very entertaining for the leaders to watch, as it quickly got extremely competitive!
The next day, we embarked on our second day of windsurfing, this time with more challenging conditions, as the wind was way stronger. Ella N. and Ella G. persisted and showed the wind who is boss! They were absolutely crushing it, while learning all kinds of different tricks on their boards! Owen had a slightly different experience and got a personal ride on the back of the instructor’s board, which had everyone, including himself, laughing. We so appreciate his attitude of rolling with the punches and keeping a great sense of humor! After windsurfing, we headed up to the west side of the island to check out Slaughterhouse Beach, a local favorite! Hidden in a cove between staggering cliffs, this beach is a perfect oasis with crystal clear waters and coral reefs for the kids to snorkel at! Katy, Ella N. and Ella G. enjoyed seeing all kinds of fish while the rest of the group hung out in the sand. On our way back to camp, we stopped in the town of Lahaina for shaved ice! This was well-deserved after two days of windsurfing and the kids were thrilled about it! We then went back to camp for a taco dinner before Moonup. We love this group already and can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip holds!!
-Gretchen and Ricky 🙂
June 27, 2023
Hello Maui Families!
We heard from our leaders and the majority of the group has landed safely in Maui! Due to travel delays, Chloe will be arriving today! The group is so excited to throw her a welcome party! 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!