Teen Sleeps Outside for a Whole Year to Raise Awareness to Plight of the Homeless

17-year-old Rudy Hummel has been sleeping outdoors every night for the past seven months. He plans to continue until he has reached his one-year goal. Through this unique project, Rudy wants to test himself and also raise awareness about the difficulties that the homeless face.

“I came up with the idea to do this for a whole year just because I like to challenge myself, but now it means more than that,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of organizations picked up that I want to try and collect money for, to donate to. Trying to turn this into a fundraiser.” The high school junior from Hermantown, Minnesota said that he has always loved camping and spending time in the outdoors.

His initial plan was to sleep outdoors only during the summer, but then he just kept going. “Geez, this has not been hard enough,” he said. At first Rudy slept on a platform in a tree in the Hummels’ backyard that he had built with his dad. When winter came, he piled up snow with a shovel in the backyard and hollowed it out to create a small bedroom. “It’s a quinsy, which is a type of snow shelter,” he explained.


Photo: CBS Minnesota

So when outdoor temperatures are as low as minus 23 degrees, Rudy’s little dwelling is a warm 7 degrees. He also makes sure to put on piles of warm clothing (as many as three pairs of socks, three layers on his lower body and three to six layers on his upper body). He chooses only synthetic or fleece materials because cotton could hold the moisture next to his skin when he sweats and that might make him cold.

Then he covers himself with several layers of blankets, quilts, and sleeping bags. Sometimes he tucks a jug of hot water under the covers. I’m not sure how this translates to a homeless experience, but I suppose you’d have to give the kid credit for trying.


Photo: SnoreOutdoors.com

Apparently, this isn’t the first of Rudy’s bizarre ideas. His parents are quite used to his harebrained schemes and don’t really mind him sleeping outside. “You know when he gets seized by an idea he really goes for it,” said Mark Hummel, Rudy’s dad. “The first time he tried to sleep out all night he was four,” said his mom, Gail Johnejack. “The first time he made it all night he was five. I don’t ever feel like I want to call him in, I really don’t. I want him to succeed.”

Rudy has promised his mom that if he ever gets really cold, he’ll come back inside. But that’s not likely to happen any time soon. All his strategies have ensured that he stays quite warm. In fact, he gets a lot of peace and quiet under all that snow. “The first night I was in here I kept hearing this soft thumping noise and I thought I’d never heard that before, then I realized it was me blinking.”


Photo: SnoreOutdoors.com

“It’s cozy. It’s pretty warm. People call me crazy or commend me. The same ones who commend me often call me crazy, but in a good way,” said Rudy. “I’m about as warm as I would be inside, I think. But I haven’t slept inside in so long that maybe it’s not true.”

Rudy has made no exceptions to his rule – he intends to sleep outside every single night until June. Even while traveling with his parents, he has slept on hotel balconies and in his aunt’s backyard. “Just to be able to tell myself that I did it at the end, to tell myself that I went a year without sleeping inside at night,” he said.


Sources: Kare11, CBS Minnesota

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