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Pacific Northwest 1B • June 11-July 1, 2023

Final Days in our Favorite Places!

July 1, 2023

Our final hello from PNW!!! What a trip it’s been, and we hate to think that this is our final trip update for you all at home. Since the last time we checked in we have done so many cool and truly life changing things. We just spent the last three days in Smith Rock State Park where we got to climb on multiple faces of real rock.


On the first day of climbing, we all learned about our gear, how to properly use it, and we even learned how to belay each other while climbing. Etta quickly fell into the role as the group’s belay master and belayed almost everyone while they climbed. After climbing we decided that it was too hot to sit around at camp, so we hopped in our van and found ourselves a nice waterfall and swimming hole to spend the rest of our afternoon at.


The next day we woke up early and set out to climb a different set of routes. We all felt a little more comfortable and confident and even looked at the part. Tillman, Archer, Vivi, Lily, Etta, and Will all took turns throughout our climbing section carrying ropes for our guides which made them look like seasoned professionals. On this second day out in Smith Rock, not only did we climb but we learned how to repel the face of a cliff! We all found ourselves with a minor case of chest butterflies before leaning back off of the cliffs edge, but our fears quickly turned to joy as we embraced the beautiful views and calm descent.


To add to our second day’s adventures, after climbing we drove to Bend, Oregon where we explored the downtown area and picked up some very stylish memorabilia. Violet, Neely, Etta, Vivi, and Lily walked around for hours looking in every shop and picking out the perfect souvenirs to take home. Will, Tillman, Archer and Wyatt all found themselves in a restaurant called J-Dubbs where they feasted on meals with funny names like “I don’t want that” (a cheese burger) or “I’m not hungry” (mac and cheese) and watch sports on the TV for the first time in weeks. When we all came back together, we shared a good meal, family style, and decided to go to the best candy store that I have personally ever seen. It was full of every kind of candy that you could imagine, a gelato bar, and even had an eternal rerun of the original Charley and the Chocolate Factory playing in the back. After we filled up on burgers and unique candies, we loaded into the van to head back to camp to get a good night’s sleep for our next big day.


The next morning, we woke up at 5am to hike into our biggest day of climbing yet. This was the day that we were going to conquer the infamous “Monkey’s Face”. We were all excited, nervous, and eager to traverse and repel down the 200ft rock that is Monkey’s Face. With all the knowledge that we had gained about climbing from the previous two days and with the help of our beloved guides, every single one of us in the group successfully completed the traverse, climb, and repel. Will bravely stepped up as the first member of our gang to begin the climb and Violet was right behind him. It was an experience that none of us will ever forget.


As we made our way back to our camp after the climb, Wyatt shared some thoughts with the group about facing fears and persevering through difficult situations despite the challenges and I will always remember the wise words and nature of the conversations that that brought about within the group. After our hike and a celebratory ice cream stop, we hit the road once more to start making our way back to Seattle.


Last night we had one of the best “moonups” yet and now we are all feeling particularly grateful for one another and a little sad to have to soon say goodbye. We ended our night last night with a big group hug and the kids all decided to “cowboy camp” so that they could be next to one another. It was a trip that I will never forget and I am forever grateful to you all for sharing your amazing kids with Jackson and I this summer. I have grown to love and appreciate every single one of them and I feel as though they have taught me more than anything that I could’ve taught them. They truly are incredible kids and I know that they will grow up to become incredible people.


  • To our kiddos, we love you all dearly and we couldn’t have asked for a better group to take on the Pacific Northwest with. You guys will always have a friend in us.


With gratitude,

Grace and Jackson

White Water Wilding!

June 27, 2023

Hello friends and family! It’s been another amazing few days out here in PNW and we have lots to catch up on!

Since our last update we have had some pretty wild adventures. It all started when our beloved van, “Ivan”, began to have some engine troubles and we found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands and in close proximity to a trampoline park. After jumping and flipping around for a while we came up with a game plan and hit the road in search of our new van (which we still haven’t come up with a proper name for).  Once we had said goodbye to Ivan, we decided to treat ourselves to a delicious meal at Panera Bread (a fan favorite) and keep on moving forwards. We drove late into the night to Trout Lake where we were welcomed with the best campsite we have been thus far. It didn’t take us long to settle into “Tipi Camp” and make ourselves at home. We laughed and screamed and thanked our lucky stars to find ourselves relaxing in an outdoor living room complete with 4 couches and some homemade coffee tables.

We woke up after getting to sleep in pretty late and ate an elaborate brunch which we made in the outdoor kitchen of our new home. After we were all fed and happy, we left to go kayaking and explore the Hood River. After returning to our camp, Vivi, Etta, Lily, Will, and Tillman pulled out their deck of cards and immediately started an intense game of ERS (Egyptian Rat Slaps) and Violet, Neely, Archer, and Wyatt found a nice spot next to our new van to read, hang out, and start their new book club. That night we all enjoyed a delicious homemade dinner followed by a full-fledged Banana Split/ice cream sundae bar. Movie style.

After another good night’s sleep, we woke up and left early in the morning to start our day of white-water kayaking. We showed up bright and early to our outfitters and geared up to start our kayaking journey down the White Salmon River. It didn’t take us long to get the hang of the swift water kayaking moves and by the end of the day we were kayaking down a class 3 rapid! Violet and Archer made it through without tipping over once! After our full day of kayaking, we headed back to our sweet Tipi Camp home where Vivi, Etta, Lily, Violet, Neely, and I laid in the sun like lizards on a rock. Wyatt, Will, Tillman, Archer, and Jackson all took their spots on the couches to catch some sun themselves. After another delicious and filling dinner, we went to bed early to get ready for our big day of white-water rafting!

When we arrived the next morning, spirits were high for another day on the water. We geared up again and took off running. We began our rafting trip in the middle of a roaring rapid and every single one of us had a smile run across our faces. The girls adopted screaming “yeehaw” as the rapids increased which closely paralleled a war chant. It would have been impossible to miss our group pass you by. To add to the fun, we briefly stopped our rafting for a quick lunch break where we got to jump off a 20ft bridge into the glacial water. Once we jumped for the first time, we had to do it over and over again! Everyone in our group jumped fearlessly and with a quick scream of adrenaline right before plunging into the icy water. After hours of class 3 and 4 rapids on the White Salmon, we finally arrived at our takeout spot and treated ourselves to a drink and snack at the outfitter’s local coffee shop. It was a day for the books. We then all loaded into our still unnamed new van and headed for Oregon to climb in Smith Rock State Park! We are all looking forward to what is to come and glad to be with one another for this next and final section of our trip. Until next time!

(P.S. I’ve been told that the new van’s name is Devan)

With Gratitude,

Grace and Jackson


Greetings from the Cascades!

June 23, 2023

From the Islands to the Cascades!


It has been a whirlwind these past 12 days on the trip, and we have just gotten the chance to settle down at Rasar State Park, just outside of North Cascades National Park. We just had an incredible experience spending 6 days backpacking on the east bank of Ross Lake. The group really came together, rallying around each other as we summited Desolation Peak on Monday morning. It was absolutely beautiful, and although it was cloudy, we were lucky enough to have them part ways for some amazing views 5,000 feet above where we’d woken up that morning! We breezed through the next few days of the trip and had some great time for reflection last night at the prettiest campsite we’ve seen yet! We hope you don’t mind a longer update (and we’re sorry it’s a little late), but we have so much we need to catch you up on!


The first night of the trip we drove to Bay View State Park. There, we began the process of getting to know each other over some fun games, swimming in the ocean, and a delicious pizza dinner. As the sun set, we gathered for our first Moonup, where Will and Neely were elected as leaders for the next day.


We had an early morning to make our ferry to San Juan Islands the next day. The kids all had a blast, and we got to begin seeing the island’s amazing wildlife as porpoises chased the boat and a bald eagle briefly followed us. Once we got off the ferry we killed time at Jackson’s beach, swimming and laying in the sun after making sandwiches for lunch. That night, we camped at Lakedale Resort, which is a beautiful hideout in the middle of the island. Neely and Violet helped to cook some delicious fajita bowls for dinner.


The next morning, we drove to the other side of the island to Roche Harbor, where we met our guides, Reina and Audrey, who worked with San Juan Outfitters. They were great, immediately bonding with the kids and taking us straight out to a beautiful rocky beach for lunch. We played out on the peninsula, playing cards and climbing on the rocks. Archer, Tillman, and Wyatt found some awesome treasures! Tillman and Vivi, our leaders of the day, did a great job helping navigate the remainder of the 6-mile trip out to Jones Island State Park. There, we set up our base camp, and our guides cooked us some delicious pasta. They also went above and beyond, setting out an appetizer of crackers and cheese and then s’mores for dessert. We found an amazing spot on the western side of the island to watch the sunset and have Moonup, reflecting on the hard work of our first day, and electing Archer and Lily as the leaders for the next day.


For our only full day of this first trip, we woke up to paddle to Yellow Island, snacking on delicious local honeydew with breakfast. On our way there, we managed to spot a pod of orcas, which Audrey assured us was an incredibly rare sight from sea kayaks. Yellow Island, managed by The Nature Conservancy, continued to leave us breathless. Protected for being a Coastal Salish Garden, one of the San Juan’s indigenous tribes, it has been meticulously maintained in the traditional manner. This was a great opportunity for the kids to see truly untouched land, as well as more wildlife, seeing a few seals lounging in the sun. Lunch was a highlight of the day, as we filled our bellies and napped on the rocks of a nearby island before heading back to Jones for dinner. Gathering for Moonup that night, we were all taken aback by how incredible our day had been. Wyatt and Violet were elected as LOD’s for the next day, having done a great job spreading positivity about the sights we saw, even after two big days of paddling.


As we paddled home the next day, we rode the current, joined by a few more playful seals for the final cruise back into Roche Harbor. We were briefly helped up as a sea plane landed, motoring into the marina in front of us. Many of us were as amazed by this as most of the wildlife! That night we returned to Lakedale Resort but had to make a local ice cream stop to fill our bellies after the hard work. We also stopped at a bookstore to find new material for our voracious readers. That afternoon, we tie-dyed shirts, rode bikes, and played spike ball before enjoying some delicious Mediterranean bowls! This was a hit for dinner, and everyone slept hard after Moonup, where Will and Etta were elected to be LOD’s for the coming travel day.


Although we had another early morning to make the ferry back to the mainland, we had a great time celebrating Wyatt’s birthday with cake for breakfast! It was a long, but relaxing day, spent napping in the van as we made the drive to the North Cascades. Once we got there, we picked up bear canisters and learned lessons on backcountry skills such as lightning protocol, packing a backpack, and maintaining hygiene. That night we camped at the Marblemount site in the National Park, organizing our equipment and preparing for the next 6 days backpacking.


The first day of our backpacking trip began early, as we had to make it to the pickup for our water taxi reservations by 11:00 AM. The kids did an awesome job packing their backpacks and getting ready, which was also good practice for the mornings to come. As we started off the hike, Tillman and Vivi took up the front and rear to help keep our group together and maintain a steady pace. We took lots of breaks as we all got comfortable with our packs and kept up with our hydration and snacking needs. We enjoyed the company of a few deer milling about our campsite at Devil’s Creek Stock Site that evening, although they didn’t join us for Moonup, where Lily and Archer were elected as the coming day’s LOD’s.

We had a shorter hike the next day, heading to Lightning Creek for the next two nights to set up our base camp to summit Desolation peak. After some practice yesterday, the kids fell into rhythm much quicker on today’s hike and we cruised to our campsite with plenty of time to explore and get in bed early. It was wonderful to see everyone get lost in conversations while hiking and continue to bond as a group. The Lightning Creek campsite was beautiful, and we set up our tents in the trees along the shore of Ross Lake. Vivi, Lily, and Etta taught some of the group how to play a card game before we all went to bed.


Desolation day!!! We woke up a few minutes after midnight to begin making our way, 8 miles and nearly 5,000 feet up to the summit of Desolation Peak! Setting out with our headlamps on, we hiked into the dawn, making it to the top around 7:30 that morning. Violet and Wyatt did a great job setting our pace as the leaders this morning. We enjoyed plenty of sun butter and jelly-filled tortillas at the summit and began to make the trip back down. Once we made it back down to our campsite around noon, we enjoyed M&M pancakes, naps, and some more card games taught by Vivi, Lily, and Etta.


We slept in the next morning before packing up at Lightning Creek and heading around the mountain to Nightmare Camp. Situated along the creek, it was a drastic change in ecosystem on the backside of Desolation peak that made for an entertaining hike. The group fell into a rhythm, led by Etta and Will, and even though it was a long 6 miles after a hard day before, we all agreed it flew by. That night we enjoyed trail pizzas and some much-needed relaxation after the strenuous past couple of days. At Moonup, Will and Etta elected Vivi and Tillman as LOD’s for the next day.


We trucked through the last full day of hiking, camping at Hozomeen Lake. It was a beautiful site, situated underneath beautiful mountains that were reflected upon the alpine lake’s clear surface. After a great night of reflection, we left early this morning to make our water taxi pick-up. We made a local food-stop at Cascade Burgers on our way to our campsite, rewarding all our hard work with a classic combo of burgers, fries, and milkshakes!


With no exaggeration, it has been an absolutely incredible experience thus far to guide your kids through these adventures. We cannot wait to send another update soon as we head to Oregon tomorrow for the rafting and climbing section of the trip. We hope to have touched base on just a few of the awesome moments from these last twelve days and promise that there are many more stories to come!!

Signing off,

Jackson and Grace


Neely: Hey! I’m having a great time. We have seen some amazing views and made fun memories. I miss you guys and hope you are good! Xoxo


Violet: Hey! I’m having a great time. Hope y’all are doing well! Thank you for this opportunity to make memories, laugh, and have fun.


Tillman:I’m having a great time. I can’t wait for Sun Valley. We’re having a great time we’ve seen some amazing things. We’re having fun. Also have a Wendy’s 4 for 4 ready when I get there


Archer: hey I miss y’all a lot but I’m having a lot of fun and I’m excited for the rest of the trip and I’m super glad I did this. Pacific northwest was a great spot to choose and there are a lot of amazing sights to see but yeah, I miss y’all. Also have some fast food ready when I arrive, I am craving it a lot already.


Wyatt: Hi, I’m doing good right now, we just finished backpacking, and we are doing white water rafting next. I miss you guys and I hope you guys are doing great.


Lily: Hi guys!! I miss you all a lot, but I am having an amazing time. I have done some of the hardest and most fun things that I have ever done, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get back!


Etta: hey m + d i miss y’all sooo much but I’m having the best time here in the PNW and I can’t wait to talk to y’all when i get back! white water rafting is next!


Will: Hey guys, the trip has been amazing so far, Thank you so much for letting me come again to this camp. I can’t wait to come back and see y’all. Love y’all!


Vivi: hi guys! I miss you all so much, but it is so pretty and fun here! I can’t wait to tell you about all the things we have done. Can’t wait to see y’all!


Safe Arrival in Seattle!

June 11, 2023

Hello Pacific Northwest Families!

We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Seattle! 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


  • Vivi
  • Tillman
  • Archer
  • Etta
  • Lily
  • Neely
  • Will
  • Wyatt