As Sarah Grace and Kasey made their way to a promontory on Mount Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii, they found themselves surrounded by an expansive canvas of shades of orange and black. “We were kind of above the clouds,” said freshman Kasey Goldenberg. “It looked like smoke was all around you,” added freshman Sarah Grace Madden. Moments like these were common during the summer adventure camp, Moondance.
According to the Moondance website, the camp offers programs in five different continents, 17 countries, and 11 US states. Groups are small, and the goals are to build character and leadership, and live in the moment. The program values teamwork and stepping outside of your comfort zone.
From the way the girls described their experience, it’s clearly not the place to go for elementary school crafts and horseback riding.
Along with five other girls and four boys that they didn’t know, Kasey and Sarah Grace stayed in Hawaii for two weeks under the supervision of three counselors. There was no cold, bottled water, they had no access to electronics, and they couldn’t take showers (unless you count using hoses). The surfed, hiked, snorkeled, kayaked, and windsurfed.
“Windsurfing was really fun, but it’s a lot harder than it looks,” said Sarah Grace. “I lost my balance every time I would get up.”
They also snorkeled in the ocean. “It was like pool water,” Kasey said. “Even when your goggles were really fogged up you could see everything.” They encountered a reef shark, an octopus, and sea turtles.
Back on land, they did a lot of hiking. Once, they were supposed to be in some type of forest but they ended up at a golf course at a really nice resort. “We think it was the Four Seasons,” said Kasey, “but we’re not really sure.” Laughing, Sarah Grace added that when they walked off the golf course they took their cold water. Because the water at the campsite was really disgusting, the group tried to get fresh water whenever they could.
Even though the two were on an island known for relaxation and vacation, the Moondancers had to stay on their toes. “We weren’t allowed to know the time so we’re assuming that we woke up really early,” Kasey said. They would then get ready for the day by putting on their bathing suits and packing their day packs. Afterwards they did their activities, had lunch, and then came back later and have dinner.
They also had to make their own meals, with the exception of going out for pizza twice. At night, they would sleep in tents at school campsites. As you might expect, living in such close quarters for 14 days helped the girls to form long-lasting friendships with the rest of the people in their group.
“All of us were crying when we left,” said Kasey. “The girls were so close right from the beginning.”
They were also really close with the leaders. In a way, the group functioned like a real life family; the counselors were the parents, and the students were the kids.
One of the most memorable experiences for Sarah Grace and Kasey was when they visited a Hawaiian village and played in the mud the whole day. “You’d just step into all this mud and just go down like three feet. We put the mud everywhere,” said Sarah Grace.
“We’d just be throwing the mud at each other, and then we’d do group hugs,” Kasey recalled.
Kasey and Sarah Grace both plan on having another Moondance adventure next summer. They agreed that the overall lesson from the experience was to “live in the moment.”