“The Summit of Connection: A Father-Daughter Journey in Colorado” by: Maggie Volpi

“The Summit of Connection: A Father-Daughter Journey in Colorado” by: Maggie Volpi

3 days, 20 teams, 2,300 feet of elevation change. An eventful week of hiking, group activities and living at AEI basecamp culminates in a seemingly impossible task: starting at the foot of a mountain and ascending all the way to its peak.

The Colorado Trek is the grand finale to most camper’s participant experience in HATS.  Typically taking place during the summer of one’s 9th grade year, the Trek consists of 10 days of activities designed to grow relationships, communication, and leadership between father-child teams as well as build friendships between participants.

I was incredibly nervous as my dad and I set off on the long-haul for Colorado. Despite all the experience HATS has given me, I am not a hiker; so when I realized that this trip would mean hiking up 650 foot sand dunes and a whole mountain, I was more than a little shaken. I didn’t believe I would be up to the task, and humiliation seemed the only outcome.

Of course, despite my brain’s convictions, that’s not at all what happened; this was a HATS trip, after all. HATS, an organization that has always created a safe space to fall, populated with members who have been nothing but encouraging to me and would never break me down. At the start of our stay at AEI basecamp I only knew a few of the girls assigned to my cabin; however, over the course of just about a week we became fast friends. Even several months after the trip I still keep in contact with some of them.

There were so many highlights of this trip; too many to share in just one article. However, I would say that the one of the most memorable experiences for me was sitting atop Mount Tilton with my dad, knowing that all the struggle had been worth it and we could finally just sit and enjoy the scenery. Climbing a whole mountain, believe it or not, is very difficult, and there were many times where we both wanted to throw in the towel. But I am so glad that we didn’t, because the view from atop that mountain (and the selfies we took there together) will stay with me for a lifetime.

Although it might seem silly compared to standing atop a literal mountain, my other favorite memory from the trip was all the times my dad and I played cards during our free time. From early mornings at AEI basecamp to afternoons on Mount Tilton to evenings at hotels, my dad and I could usually be found throwing down at Speed.

When we first set out for Colorado, I had forgotten the whole point of the trip: to spend time with my dad. He would never leave me to fail on my own; whatever happened, we would be together, through the good, the bad, the ugly. And we were. For me, it’s not just the memories of this trip that will last a lifetime, but the bond that my dad and I will share long after our time in HATS has ended.

2 responses to ““The Summit of Connection: A Father-Daughter Journey in Colorado” by: Maggie Volpi”

  1. What a wonderful story! I remember my trips with my two girls all to well. They were both very special trips which I too will remember and cherish for a lifetime.

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