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why moondance

We’re in the kid business and our goal is to create trips of a lifetime. Here at Moondance, we strive to bring you amazing adventures, the opportunity to travel the world, and the chance to deeper develop one’s love for the outdoors. We hope that every student leaves the summer more confident in his or her self, has strengthened peer leadership skills and can apply the lessons taught at Moondance into the core values of their everyday life.

Moondance is people-centric, not travel-centric, and we treasure the relationships with our staff, leaders, students, and families. We treasure seeing transformation through new experiences. We love seeing a kid come out of his shell. It makes our day when a young woman discovers just how brave she really is. It’s pure joy to see confidence bloom in a kid who challenged him to do something he didn’t think he could do.

However, planning these experiences can be hard work. We believe in working hard, going the extra mile, and doing the next right thing – for our kids, for their families, and for each other. We have years of experience running trips across the globe and invite you to read on below to discover what sets Moondance apart.

the moondance difference

20+ Years Experience

Hayes founded Moondance in 1996 as a way to share outdoor adventures with young people. He has been working and designing programs for teenagers for over 40 years.

Talented Trip Leaders

Our leaders are the heart, soul, hands and feet of our entire operation. They deliver trips of a lifetime, and they do it smoothly, with attention to safety and with style. We know that the people we send into the field make our trips, and make our company.

Small Groups

One of the best realities of a trip is the small group, and how it becomes its own larger than life organism. Because the group is small, everyone gets to stand up, stand out, and be a necessary part of the machine.

Personal Touch

What makes Moondance different is our passion for providing you with an experience that changes you. We believe these trips change lives, and your personal growth is our most prized outcome.

Off the Charts Reviews

Most Moondancers come back for a second summer because our trips are fun, inspirational and life-changing. Our tried and true itineraries and trip leaders, provide an off the charts experience.

The Moondance Family

Moondancers are a rare and wonderful breed. Every year we are struck with the caliber of people who flock to our feather. They come from all over the globe.

Risk Management Focus

Risks are inherent on any outdoor or cultural immersion program. Managing and mitigating these risks are of paramount importance to the Moondance administrative staff and on any Moondance trip. It is one of our top priorities.

Character Building Focus

Our adventure programs are built on the philosophy that challenge builds character. In all of our programs, we create an adventure that is not only lots of fun, but one that is truly educational as well.

Our small groups are designed to be no larger than 12-13 students with two adult instructors, one male and one female. We consider group dynamics a priority, so careful consideration goes into age, gender, hometown and school when assigning trip groups. We keep the groups small so everyone has a chance to shine and to bring out the best versions of themselves without feeling lost in the crowd.

Moonup, our ritual of a nightly circle, is one of the most special parts of a Moondance trip. Debrief the day, tell stories, or simply ask each other whatever you want — it’s incredible how close you can become when you simply take the time to sit together and talk. Moonup often becomes a favorite feature of our trips. It’s a place to grow, reflect, learn, laugh, stare at the sky and howl at the moon.

What makes Moondance different is our passion for providing you with an experience that changes you. We believe these trips change lives, and your personal growth is our most prized outcome. Our adventures instill in you the ability to find comfort in the outdoors and confidence in yourself. You will prove to yourself that you have everything you need to face life, and thrive in whatever situation it throws at you.

Trip Leaders

moondance adventures office staff

Moondance HQ

Moondance to me holds a very special place in my heart because it allows me to grow as an individual, experience new things, meet new people, and always have the most amazing time. It’s hard to imagine a summer without Moondance.
- Lanier Mason, Nashville, TN

Unplug

Ditch the doldrums of your device and free yourself from the daily tangle. We are here to wage war on the wires and recharge your soul. Unplug! It’s the best thing you can do for your eyes, your mind, your heart, and your life. When you disconnect from technology, you slow down and are able to awaken to the experience of the present moment. This crucial truth too often gets clouded in the cloud. Free your eyes from a filtered existence and fill them with the real thing. Real friends come from real experiences, and real experiences happen when you are free from the constant clatter and ghostly glow of your screen. The importance of this experience cannot be overemphasized. Reconnect to the fact that life at its very best is happening right in front of you.

Expedition Behavior

Expedition Behavior (EB) is our favorite leadership skill to serve up on a Moondance trip. Simply put, be good to each other and the good will spread. It’s the golden rule, multiplied by the power of an actual expedition. As a part of something bigger, you become aware of yourself in a different, more deliberate way. Good EB is when you take care of your group, because in doing so, you are taking care of yourself. When you are good to your team, the bar is always being raised. When you bring out the best versions of each other, the whole group shines.

Building Character & Leadership

Our adventure programs are built on the philosophy that challenge builds character. In all of our programs, we create an adventure that is not only lots of fun, but one that is truly educational as well.

Using the outdoors as our classroom, we teach what we love — backpacking, climbing, community service, etc.  But far more than learning climbing or paddling skills, you develop life skills that can be applied to everything you do back home. Many of the powerful lessons learned on a Moondance course are intangibles — trust, communication, leadership, confidence.We think student leadership is one of the most important aspects of a Moondance summer. As mentors and teachers, leaders are always close by with the support needed to stay afloat in any scenario. Through teachable moments and careful consideration, we help students become leaders themselves. Every student will be a Leader of the Day (LOD) where they will assume responsibilities ranging from waking the group up and breaking down camp, to making decisions on route planning, to ending the day with a nightly Moonup. It happens out here, not in a classroom, and this is the stuff we believe in.

Risk Management

Risks are inherent on any outdoor or international program. Managing and mitigating these risks are of paramount importance to the Moondance administrative staff and on any Moondance trip. It is one of our top priorities. We want to create an atmosphere where we can allow our students to stretch their limits within our acceptable risk tolerance. Risk management is taught and practiced throughout every course, and students play integral roles in our commitment to risk management. While safety is not something that we, or any other organization, can guarantee, we strive to provide programs that are carefully designed, examined, and run with risk management at the forefront of our minds.

We work hard to provide a well-planned, quality experience for our students. This is a direct reflection of our well-designed courses, outfitter selection, and our low student to staff ratio. We use only the finest outfitters and guide services for technical activities, such as rock climbing, mountaineering, or whitewater rafting. We monitor and evaluate the risks of each trip and make managing these risks a year-round responsibility. We invest time and resources into our overall Risk Management Plan by participating in the Wilderness Risk Management Conference annually and other trainings such as a Risk Management Training offered by NOLS, an organization with over 50 years of experience managing risk in wilderness environments. We strive to keep up-to-date with industry standards related to risk management and hold regular meetings with our Risk Management Committee to collaborate on these important practices.

Our leaders are integral to running a well-managed trip. Prior to the start of our programs, our trip leaders participate in an intensive 11-day training where policies and procedures are discussed as well as tactics for respecting and evaluating risks. All of our leaders are certified in Wilderness First Aid (a 16-hour course in wilderness medical training) or as Wilderness First Responders (an 80-hour course in wilderness medical training). Our leaders always carry an extensive first aid kit and are familiar with the emergency safety support systems in the areas we travel. Our leaders’ goal is to teach each participant that responsible behavior, good judgment, and a concern for group safety are the most valuable commodities in the outdoors.

Participating in outdoor adventure activities involves inherent risks and dangers that can lead to injury, property damage, or even loss of life. These risks cannot be predicted and can include forces of nature and the possibility of accidents. Almost any activity can be dangerous. We must learn to manage risks daily while living in the wilderness or traveling abroad.

Please call us to discuss our risk management in more detail if you have any questions.