17-year-old Hermantown boy completes one year of sleeping outdoors

By KBJR News 1

June 6, 2014 Updated Jun 6, 2014 at 9:51 PM CDT

Hermantown, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- If you live in the Northland you're probably well aware that this winter was the coldest winter in northern Minnesota in 139 years.

But if you thought it was rough, imagine sleeping outside during that entire time.

Well for Rudy Hummel that was one cold reality.

17-year-old Rudy Hummel from Hermantown has attracted international attention for his quest to sleep outside for a full year, and on Friday he will conclude his mission.

"We think of the birds and the squirrels coming to the feeders in our backyards as visitors, but really they live here every bit as much as we do," said Rudy.

Rudy says sleeping outside became so routine that there weren't any nights where he felt the need to go inside.

"On the nights where there were thunder storms I may have wished I was inside, but I didn't want to go inside because it was pouring..."

Rudy says those were the toughest nights.

"The wind would rattle the tarp around, I couldn't get much sleep, the tarp leaked, the rain flew in through the side 'cause of the wind. The thunder kept me awake," he said.

But to make sure he was always safe Rudy's parents made some deals with him.

"He had a phone out there with him. We had a deal where if he ever started shivering he would need to come in, but he never did. He managed it," said Rudy's mom, Gail Johnejack.

And after gaining world-wide attention for his quest, Rudy came-up with the idea to put on a fundraiser for his mission helping others.

He set up a website allowing people to donate to Habitat for Humanity or Hawks Ridge Bird Observatory so the attention wouldn't be "wasted" on him.

"Ugh. I wanna be like him. I just... he's got more together at 17 than I do right now really, in many ways," said Rudy's dad, Mark Hummel.

Rudy says through this experience the ever-growing homeless situation has become more real.

"I'm not going to claim to have any idea what it's like to be homeless, but it opened my eyes to the fact that, yeah homeless people are there," said Rudy.

And while parents teach their children every day, Rudy's parents say he does the same.

"I like to think in general that children stand on the shoulders of their parents, and generation after generation we can grow and evolve as people and as humanity, but man he came up with a really tall ladder on top of my shoulders," said Rudy's dad.

And as for what's ahead for young Rudy...

"A scout leader in my troop has offered to help me try to put together some stories into a book, so I'll take him up on that. Maybe it won't get published but it will help me at least immortalize these memories for myself," said Rudy.

Rudy's friends say his heart is already so big, but only continues to grow.

"If you compare him to the rest of us, he's the biggest giver amongst us," said Rudy's friend, Andrew Clauson.

Rudy is inviting people all over the world to spend this last night outside with him.
He says, "please join me by sharing the night sky with my friends and I."

Rudy has already raised over $5,000.

If you'd like to donate to Habitat for Humanity or Hawks Ridge Bird Observatory head to: http://snoreoutdoors.com

Elsa Robins
erobins@kbjr.com