Where does my trip start?
California Discovery begins in San Francisco, California. Your Moondance leaders will be in baggage claim to greet you and the rest of your group before heading a little south to your first campsite near the beach, unless you fly as an unaccompanied minor, in which case your leader will meet you at your arrival gate.
What happens in a typical day?
There is no typical day on a Moondance adventure! You may be surfing on the Pacific Ocean one day, rock climbing in Yosemite National Park the next, or sea kayaking across the pristine water of Lake Tahoe. Some days you may hike to a hidden waterfall or alpine lake just for a refreshing swim; other days you could find yourself in a raft navigating class III rapids with a guide. Either way each day will be filled with a new adventurous activity. The food is always delicious and hearty, and at the end of each day, your group will find a beautiful site to set up camp and enjoy a warm meal with a hot drink. No matter what trip you choose, each night ends with ‘Moonup;’ a chance to gather as a group to debrief the day’s events, discuss the upcoming adventures or challenges, and just relax in one another’s company.
Where are the Big Basin Redwoods? Yosemite National Park? Lake Tahoe?
Encompassing over 18,000 acres, the Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest state park and located just south of San Francisco, just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. Yosemite National Park is on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain in east central California and covers about 761,000 acres. Located maybe 50 miles north of Yosemite is Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California Nevada border as the largest alpine lake in North America.
What are the Sierra Nevada Mountains like?
Approximately 400 miles long, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are a beautifully diverse mountain range. They extend from Mount Whitney, standing at 14,494 feet, all the way to sea level and include Yosemite and Sequoia National Park.
Do I need any special gear for rock climbing? What about experience?
There is no extra gear required for any climbing section on Moondance. It’s great if you have your own climbing shoes–bring them!–but our professional guides will supply us with everything we need including ropes, harnesses, shoes when necessary, and helmets. Absolutely no experience is required to have fun on the rock. Once you try it, you’ll realize that the learning curve is high!
What’s the weather like in California?
You can expect to have warm and dry days while in California. In the evenings it may get a bit chilly, so have a layer ready. In the Sierra Nevada’s, sunny days with the occasional afternoon shower will greet us. While rafting the American River, you’ll be glad to be soaked by rapids to cool off from the hot sun! Overall, you should get a full dose of that California sunshine each day!
Will my parents be able to meet me in San Francisco at trip’s end?
Certainly! San Francisco is a fun place to explore! We encourage parents to take advantage of learning about your Moondance trip while visiting the city of trolley cars, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’d like to arrive in San Francisco a few days before your trip begins, your Moondance leaders will meet you at the Delta baggage claim on the opening day of your trip!
How long will we raft the American River?
We will get to spend two exhilarating days and a wonderful star-filled night on the American River, learning to navigate class II and III rapids! With professional whitewater rafting guides, we’ll tackle the South Fork of the river, which flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through El Dorado county, home to the site that ignited the California Gold Rush.
What if I’ve never paddled a raft before?
No problem, every raft is guided by a professional river guide who will lead you through the challenging rapids with expert skill. You will learn basic paddling strokes needed for your time on the American River at the beginning of the rafting section. As with all of our water sports, everyone is required to wear a personal flotation device (or PFD) and helmet.
What kind of students will be on my trip?
You will be accompanied by other 6th through 8th graders looking for adventure and challenge in the great outdoors. We look for great students who want the chance to grow and learn in some of the world’s most spectacular environments.
Will they be my same age?
The California Discovery trip is only open to current 6th through 8th graders, but there is a possibility that you will only be in a group of students that are in your grade. Most of all, you’ll learn that life’s lessons are often camouflaged as a brilliant rainbow that follows a storm, a challenging hike, or strangers that become family at the end of two weeks. The self-confidence that one gains by exploring the unknown provides a constant foundation for life’s adventures down the road.
What will I learn by the end of my trip?
By the end of your Moondance experience, you may learn how to cook a great meal, stand and ride an ocean wave on a surfboard, or how to scramble your way up a granite rock face. Most of all, you’ll learn that life’s lessons are often camouflaged as a brilliant rainbow that follows a storm, a challenging hike, or strangers that become family at the end of two weeks. The self-confidence that one gains by exploring the unknown provides a constant foundation for life’s adventures down the road.