High Adventure Treks for Dads & Daughters

Starting in the fall of 2015, Brian Moore and his then ten-year old daughter Amory joined a six-year long outdoor adventure program called HATS, or High Adventure Treks for Dads & Daughters, focusing on increasingly challenging outdoor experiences that a father and daughter can share together.  Begun in 1996 by fellow Lake Highlands resident Kipp Murray, HATS began as a response to the fact that there was no program in America for girls similar to the kind of experiences promoted within the Boy Scouts of America, desiring one aimed specifically for pre-teen girls in Grades 4 – 9 and even more specifically, the father/daughter relationship.  While sitting up on Mount Phillips at the famous Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico, Kipp was disheartened by the fact that he would never be able to have the same experiences with his younger daughter as he did with his son through an organized program; hence, he envisioned a program called HATS, with the goal of developing a program to teach girls advanced outdoor camping and survival skills in combination with building lasting father/daughter relationships.

While YMCA has its long-running four-year Adventure Princess program, that program is traditionally completed at the end of the 3rd Grade and focuses on nurturing girls’ socialization skills with other girls of similar age.  HATS is built as a program that picks up where the Adventure Princess program leaves off, while focusing on a series of outdoor experiences that both emulates the time-honored outdoor-oriented challenges of Boy Scouts, while nurturing a girl’s specific need for a father figure during her critical pre-teen years.  Over the years since, HATS has steadily instituted a set of rules that father/daughters must abide by at all times that enhances a true father/daughter relationship.  Among them are:

–The “18-inch rule”.  Never during a weekend-long campout should a daughter ever be further than 18 inches away from her dad—NOT an easy task, especially as the daughter matures.

–No electronics, including camera phones and tablets.

–No alcohol (no “red solo cups” either)

HATS has a formal program of two weekend-long campouts per year that steadily grows in physical and mental challenge:  day hiking, challenge courses, map & compass, lake canoeing, overnight river canoeing, rock climbing, rappelling, survival skills, river kayaking, outdoor photography, overnight trail bushwhacking and culminating in a ten-day long backpacking trip in Colorado after their 9th Grade school year is complete.  In addition to this formal “curriculum”, HATS has a built-in mentor program, where one experienced dad & daughter attends and/or “leads” a campout’s activities for every six younger father/daughter attendees.  This ancillary program builds both loyalty within HATS, but also encourages leadership training for the girls as they get older.

Another relatively new program is called Wilderness Leadership Academy, which trains the older girls in survival training, public speaking and co-leading entire events and outdoor activities alongside their dads.  Over a thousand girls are now either in the HATS program or have graduated, all from the Dallas area.  No other program in the country currently matches its breadth of experience of “Growing Relationships, Communication & Leadership Through Adventure with our Dads”.  Recent news that the Boy Scouts may soon permit girls within their nation-wide program would inevitably test the Scouts’ ability to transition from more individually-oriented challenges catered to boys where the father is not necessarily present, to one that has each father required to have a strategic role.

At GFF, Stephen Pickard and his daughter Laura went through the HATS program from 2005 – 2009 (he’d now like for Kipp to start a grandfather/granddaughter program).  Also, Adam Fenner’s family are long-time friends with the Murrays, with Adam being Kipp Murray’s godson and is coincidentally the same age as Kipp’s daughter Megan, who now co-leads HATS.

Brian and his daughter Amory are almost finished with her third year in the program, having attended ten campouts thus far, serving as mentors for three of their ten outings, already leading activities and events.  Doing these outdoor activities has led to Amory feeling comfortable doing more intense challenges away from HATS events, such as hiking to the top of Texas’ highest peak at age 10, backpacking in the Utah backcountry at age 11 and planning for a Spring Break 2018 three-day backpacking trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  By the end of the program, Amory will have attended or helped lead between twenty-five and thirty campouts before graduating from high school and because of the “18-inch rule”, her father Brian will be there every step of the way.

“With you in the Adventure!”

Brian & Amory Moore