Max Woosey from Devon, England, is a young boy with good intentions. When the 11-year-old began sleeping in a tent last year, he only wanted to raise £100 (about $138) for the hospice that cared for his neighbor, Rick, during his final days.
Max had woken up in his tent many nights in the most unfavorable conditions during the winter and summer, but he endured them all.
One night, he was almost tempted to sleep indoors because his tent blew down in a storm. But the determined lad repitched and carried on.
The summers were harsh, too, especially when their family labradoodle, Digby, took to snuggling with him even during the hottest and stickiest nights.
But all of his sacrifices had been worth it. Recently, Max marked his 500th consecutive night camping out. And it was more than just an adventure.
With it, the boy has managed to raise £640,000 (about $880,490) for charity—more than half of what the hospice estimates they would have lost during the pandemic.
“It feels amazing to reach 500 nights,” he told The Guardian. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long because so many cool things have happened since I started camping. I never ever thought that it would last this long, but I absolutely love it.”
His camping marathon began in early 2020, when Max’s mom and dad, Rachael and Mark Woosey, were helping to care for their neighbor, Rick Abbott, who suffered from terminal cancer.
The Woosey family saw the level of support that North Devon Hospice gave Rick during his final days.
Before the man died, he gave Max his tent and told him to have an adventure with it. And so he did.
When the first national lockdown was announced in March 2020, the fundraising events for the hospice got canceled because of COVID-19. So, Max decided to start a fundraising camp out for them until the lockdown was over.
Max expected to raise only £100, but as the lockdown restrictions were extended, he refused to seek shelter in his own home. The donations to his JustGiving page started pouring in as he attracted national and international attention.
Max even met Boris Johnson, where he recalled an awkward moment when the Prime Minister’s dog, Dilyn, grabbed his cuddly toys Heidi the lion and Spike the lemur.
“I was chasing round the garden trying to catch Dilyn,” Max said. “That was bizarre.”
The boy has also begun receiving fanmail, with some of them simply addressed to “The Boy in the Tent, Braunton, Devon.”
Rachael said that her son’s 500 days of camping had been life-changing for their whole family.
“It started off as my little 10-year-old boy camping out in the garden for a few nights and hoping to raise £100. None of us can really believe what has happened,” she said.
She has told him many times that he doesn’t have to camp out anymore because he has already achieved something special, but the boy won’t quit.
When Rachael told him to come in when his tent blew down, he declined. One night during a thunderstorm, she researched whether it was safe to camp out when there was lightning. The next morning, Max told her that he had been counting the seconds between the thunderclaps and the lightning, so he knew the storm was far away.
“He told me: ‘I knew I wasn’t going to die.’”
Max even contracted COVID-19 at one point but still chose to stay outside, with his mom sleeping next to him.
Mark, a Royal Marine, said that he is proud of his son’s accomplishment.
“I think he likes the freedom sleeping in the tent,” he said. “Nobody is checking exactly what time he goes to sleep. He has a bit of control.”
Despite fulfilling his goal for the hospice, Max has no intention of stopping. He said he loves the outdoors and being closer to nature.
“If it stops being fun, I’ll come in. But I can’t imagine that,” he said.
Kudos to this young man for his dedication! If Rick were still here, he would be happy to know that his tent has been put to good use.