It has finally come down to this: My kids can out-climb me. In the gym. I still think I could take them out on the rock where I have more experience and an adult presence of mind. And I think I could make a good showing at The Spot alongside them on the wall if only I had more time to get into a regular climbing routine every day. I hope.
Of course, I am damn proud of them. They took to climbing without my urging. They want to go and do it. And I have to thank EO contributing editor and climbing fanatic Chris Van Leuven for teaching them so much about the sport. When they go to The Spot and climb with Chris, they don’t just try to make competitive moves on the wall. They learn a lot about the history of the sport—and they are surrounded by some of the best climbers on the planet, with everyone from Bobbi Bensman to Paul Gagner stopping in for a workout and showing them the possibilities of a life beyond the institutional confines of what many adults grew up with. This is just one of the reasons I am so glad that my wife and I choose to raise our children here.
As the editor of this magazine and someone who feels most at home in the wild, I certainly wanted my kids to learn to love the outdoors and all the possible ways you can find solace and fulfilment out away from the limits of the anthropomorphic world—everything from competitive mountain biking to just sitting on a rock and engaging in what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.” But I did not want to push them. I did not want to become one of those parents forcing my kids to have the mountain-town upbringing they never got, or insisting my kids compete so hard at skiing or climbing that by the time they become adults they quit because it was something their parents made them do.
The real beauty of raising kids in Colorado is that I didn’t have to make them love the outdoors and playing out in the wild at all. Colorado took care of that all on its own. They fell in love with hikes into the ponderosa forests and high outlooks of the Flatirons on the trails behind our house on their own. They found the joy of skiing through pockets of powder in tight trees on their own. My daughter, Isa, now in eighth grade, wanted to get out and raft the Grand Canyon on the Boulder Expeditions trip her school offered. My son, Kieran, a fifth grader, found the same fascination in tying flies and catching trout that has captured me, my dad and my grandfather (and I am sure generations before us), not because we made him do it, but because he went to a Front Range Anglers’ camp and realized a fly box is not all that different from a binder of Pokemon cards. (And nothing compares to feeling a fish on your line that hit something you chose to use and crafted with your own hands.)
This is why we Coloradoans are so lucky. Our children have the chance for a wide range of experiences. My daughter can study theater with actors from the second-oldest Shakespeare festival in the country. My son can watch his favorite baseball player, Trevor Story, knock two balls out of the park from seven rows away. There are few limits on what they can explore to grow as people—and they go climbing every week.