‘Snow Joke! Teen Sleeps Outside, Nightly, in Minnesota!

Readers — Here’s a story from the Star Tribune to warm you heart! Free-Range-wise, one of the things we like to remind folks is that THIS generation of kids is not suddenly the most delicate in history! They come fully equipped to handle the same challenges kids did for generations. (Though personally I am a fan of central heating.) – L

North Shore teen more than halfway to sleeping outside for a whole year

  • by: SAM COOK , Associated Press

HERMANTOWN, Minn. — It was bedtime for Rudy Hummel. He pulled on three pairs of pants and four shirts. He slipped into a pair of boots. He walked out into the starry December night and headed for his snow house.

The temperature was 8 degrees.

For Hummel, 17, this would be his 193rd night in a row sleeping outdoors. He started June 7, sleeping on an elevated platform in a copse of balsam fir in his backyard.

“Originally, it was just going to be for the summer,” he said. “I thought it would be cool to spend the whole summer sleeping outside.”

An outdoorsy kid in an outdoorsy family, he enjoyed dropping off to sleep listening to the owls. He liked waking up to the sound of birdsong and to shafts of sunlight slanting through the balsam boughs. September came, and he wasn’t ready to come inside.

“I thought, ‘I need something more fun,’ ” he told the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/JorTNC).

So, he decided to shoot for a full year of sleeping outdoors. When winter came on, he built the snow house. He piled up a mountain of snow, let it set up and then hollowed it out. He finished building his snow house on Dec. 10 and has been sleeping there every night since.

Read more here!

It's 8 degrees and Rudy Hummel is snuggling into bed...outside.

It’s 8 degrees F. and Rudy Hummel is snuggling into bed…outside.

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19 Responses to ‘Snow Joke! Teen Sleeps Outside, Nightly, in Minnesota!

  1. Richard December 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    That is cool – but at the same time it’s a little sad that this makes the news compared to where we were 50 years ago.

  2. librarian December 29, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Great story and good for the kid. My only note is that he can easily get by with much fewer pads and sleeping bags. And you shouldn’t wear any clothes when you’re inside a proper, well-insulated dawn sleeping bag – it actually makes you less warm, by isolating your body parts, the same way a glove is less warm than a mitten.

  3. Chihiro December 29, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    As a Minnesotan, this kid is nuts. It gets really freaking cold here, that’s probably why this kid made the news. Today, it’s -15 where I live, and it’s gone down to -25 up at my college town. I hope that snow house is warm inside.

  4. Gina December 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    LOL…better him than me! Imagine..outside in the cold and he doesn’t have pneumonia…or even a cold. Could it be that GERMS cause these illnesses?
    :)

  5. Wendy December 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    A fellow Minnesotan, and prior North Dakotan, here. I’m not sure that inside a snow house qualifies as “outside”. My kids have spent many hours inside snow forts and hollowed piles, and usually end up shedding coats. It gets warm in there! But, split hairs aside, kudos to the kid’s adventurous spirit, and to his parents for letting him. And I think attempting to do this for a year IS newsworthy, now or 50 years ago.

  6. BL December 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Hmmm. Is this really “free-range”? As far as we know, he’s not venturing past the back yard.

  7. Papilio December 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    @Gina: I bet the germs are also fan of central heating 😛

  8. Nicole December 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    I’ll be interested to see if the snow house is warm enough in the deeply chilling cold of January and February, but I bet it will. I also don’t see how this is free range, but I do see an outdoorsy family climate, which is highly typical of the area. In an area where people go deer hunting in the snow, ice fish, and some were determined to go fishing on the Fishing Opener, damn the snow, I see this as an endemic way of life. The families who live this lifestyle also get their kids involved at a young age so they’re fully capable of camping out in the back yard for a full year, especially if they live out in the country, like I suspect this family does. Personally, I’m happy to stay inside in my warm bed just a few feet for the radiator.

  9. Buffy December 29, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    We keep hearing stories about busybodies who get CPS involved when a kid is merely playing alone in his yard; I’m really surprised someone hasn’t reported this! (but glad)

  10. Reziac December 29, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Good for him!!!! And ya know what? A lot of our ancestors slept in unheated quarters — and LIVED! 😀

    Back in the rough winters of the 1970s, I lived in a small trailer in Montana (which gets colder than Minnesota; -45 nights were routine) and heated with wood and coal. Occasionally the fire would go out during the night… One January morning I awoke to discover it was -10 degrees *indoors*. But in my warm bed, I hadn’t noticed. A snow house and a bed using modern insulative fabrics (or better yet, old-fashioned down comforters) would be a lot warmer than that. (Snow is an excellent insulator; straw is even better. Corrugated cardboard is fantastic.)

    In really cold weather, you’re NOT warmer sleeping in the raw (the main reason to not sleep in your clothes is because you’d be getting up with sweat-damp clothes, not good for facing a cold day). Fleece jammies and those furry ‘bed socks’ are a helluva lot warmer than skin alone, even in a flannel-lined bag. Remember not all your skin is in contact solely with other skin; more than half lies against bedding, one way or another. The less bedding you have to warm up with your own body heat, the less heat is wasted.

  11. J.T. Wenting December 30, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    A properly constructed snow shelter will have an inside temperature around freezing, irrespective of how cold it gets outside.
    Of course we can’t tell from the report whether this one has been properly constructed.

  12. nina December 30, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    My youngest daughter was born in January. We had her take naps outside in a winter stroller from the day we brought her home. I’d watch her from the kitchen windows while I made dinner or did dishes. It never got colder then high teens/low twenties. We had to put a stop to it when she was about 2 and a half, because she no longer fit in the stroller. Unfortunately she stopped talking day time naps after that. She couldn’t fall asleep inside in the day time.

  13. EB December 30, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    To this day I love sleeping outdoors under the stars (at age 67). Not so much in winter, but if it’s over 40 degrees F, it’s great. Wish I had a sleeping porch (remember those?). Then there would not even be any problem with bugs on hot calm nights.

  14. CrazyCatLady December 30, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    YES! This story is free-range. We live in a world where parents are told to never let their kids out of sight. Elizabeth Smart’s parents (and other night time abductee parents) have been berated because they had the windows open to let in fresh air instead of using AC and locking the windows. “Standard safety” says to lock all ground floor windows at night. (I have a single level house and hate AC. We don’t have safety bars because if there is a fire – more likely, I want them to be able to get out.)

    This teen is actually OUTSIDE! ALL night! My goodness – anything could happen! The dingos could eat him! Probably the worse he will get is mosquito bites.

  15. Warren December 30, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    BL give it a break. Getting sick and tired of those wanting to get a clear cut definition of free range. And then limit stories here to free range defined onlyl.

  16. EB December 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Just have to add: the first pictures of me are of 6-month old me asleep in a baby buggy on a fire escape in New York in (I would guess) November or December. I’m wearing a snow suit with a peaked hood. Someone’s laundry is flapping in the background.

  17. steve December 30, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

    Interesting that his last name is Hummel… as in “Hummel Figurine” – those collectible china figurines you might consider “Delicate and breakable.” Looks like Rudy Hummel is proving he’s not too delicate to brave the cold and show he’s not an “average” kid. His willingness to set this kind of goal could help him get into the college of his choice. And think of all the employers who would find his tenacity attractive. But I assume Rudy is enough of an individualist that he will someday own his own business.

  18. pentamom December 31, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    It’s Free Range in the sense that his parents are not forbidding him from doing something that sounds somewhat painful and risky. I don’t know how that’s not obvious.

  19. Peter January 2, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    This is kind of funny. My brother-in-law is currently working at McMurdo station in Antarctica. One of the “fun” things for them to do is to camp on the ice.

    Now, of course, this is freaking Antarctica and they have various tools for camping on the ice. But they’re also pretty far away from civilization.

    Here’s a couple of blog posts about it.