How to Raise a Kid That Loves The Outdoors
At Taos we’re always excited to meet parents who are raising adventurous kids. Our company was founded by two ski bums and we love seeing the next generation of adventurers come up. All of this is why we were grateful to come across Zach Kline, 39, a stand-out dad from Albuquerque, New Mexico who’s exposed his six-year-old daughter Wren to everything from climbing to skiing to camping, and has already helped her develop a deep love of the outdoors.
Zach is good at getting his daughter outside because he’s spent most of his life in high-octane outdoor jobs. Early on he was an Air Force Pararescuemen (PJ), or more simply put, a special forces soldier who was charged with rescuing other soldiers if need be. Today, he’s the Program Manager of the Medicine and Technical Rescue training wing for the Air Force’s 351 Special Warfare Training Wing, which means he now teaches PJs how to do their job. He’s also the president of the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council, which acts as the regional Search and Rescue team.
A typical day for him might include building a custom hydraulic machine that will test the weight limit of a carabiner, or repelling off 600-foot cliff in the Sandia Mountains to rescue to a climber that had a bad fall. Of course dropping Wren off at school is also a favorite part of his routine.
Zach says he never game planned how to get Wren outside, but instead just tried to include her in his daily life and encourage her to explore whenever possible. He remembers back when she was a baby taking her to a climbing course he taught and watching her sit off to the side and shovel handfuls of dirt into her mouth.
“That was a pretty funny moment, but I was also like ‘yep, that’s my kid!,’” he says.
Ever since Wren could walk she’s been at the local climbing gym, on skis, and riding her bike. Teaching her to do these sports has been difficult at times, Zach says, but patience always pays off. At the gym for example, he watched her try to get to the top of a climb for six months, and then one day, not expecting it, she touched the top.
“To me that was a big moment,” he says. “It showed me that she could problem solve, and that she could stick with something hard. What I ultimately hope is that these kinds of skills that she’s developing on the climbing wall, or out on the snow or rock, help her overcome other obstacles in her life as well.”
Like almost all parents, Zach is not above bribery when necessary. Kids don’t do well on cold chairlifts during the winter so there are gummy bears in his jacket pocket and free-flowing hot chocolate down at the lodge. There are also realistic expectations so that Wren always has fun and never feels like she’s being unfairly pushed.
“If we only get to bike for fifteen minutes, or our ski days gets cut short because she’s cold, that’s totally fine,” Zach says. “It’s more about the experience than trying to prove something.”
As Wren gets older, Zach says he’ll continue to expose her to his world, but ultimately wants her to find her own passion. If she wants to paraglide, he’ll support that. And if she decides climbing is not her thing, he’ll support that, too.