A World of Adventures 9

It’s a Marvelous Time for a Moondance!

If you were lucky enough to be born into a family that runs summer camps, what would you do once you became an adult? Well, if you are Hayes Hitchens, a Nashville resident who grew up spending summers at his family-run camp in northern Wisconsin, you keep a good thing going, maybe even taking it up a notch or two.

Hayes is the founder and president of Moondance Adventures, one of the nation’s premier adventure travel companies for teens. With more than 110 trip leaders and 1,300 students in grades 6 to 12 traveling across the globe, Moondance now operates programs in 11 states, 17 countries and five continents.  

But things weren’t always so grand. In fact, the beginnings were pretty humble. In 1996, the first year Hayes launched the enterprise, just 33 young adults signed up for adventures in the two available locations: the Grand Tetons and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Using skills he had acquired from years of working with young people — Hayes was dean of students at the Lovett School in Atlanta — plus years of summer camp experience and training with outdoor programs like Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School, Hayes built the business into the thriving success it is today. 

These days, despite the demands of keeping up with more than 1,000 teenagers spread across five continents, overseeing their safety and ensuring the quality of their experience, Hayes still finds time to go a few trips himself, meeting and spending time with the young adventurers who remind him of how powerfully traveling can broaden one’s horizons.

“I have never wanted to be the biggest teen adventure company, but my aspiration continues to be the best,” Hayes says. “After 23 years, we are proud of where we are and the wonderful people who work for us.”

Got a young person in your life who wants to see the world while developing skills, meeting new friends and giving back to others? Then feel free to give Hayes a shout. After all, it’s a marvelous time for a Moondance.

For more information, visit MoondanceAdventures.com.