British Boy Spends 200 Nights in a Tent to Raise Money in Memory of Lost Loved Ones
Max Woosey knows everything there is to know about camping out!
The 10-year-old boy from Devon, England has spent the past 200 nights sleeping in a tent in memory of a neighbor named Rick, who died of cancer in February at the age of 74.
Shortly before his death, Rick gifted Max his tent and told him "promise me you'll have an adventure in here" — and that’s precisely what he’s done.
"I sometimes get a bit freaked out when it's stormy weather, but I wouldn't say I get scared," Max told the BBC about his epic sleep out, adding that the best part is "escaping" his parents.
Though the tiny adventurer has been regularly pounded by the notorious British weather — he's been forced to swap Rick's tent for something sturdier — and discovered an ant's nest under his groundsheet, he's also grateful for the fact that his backyard bedroom enables him to read his favorite Beano comic "for as long as you want."
Max was inspired to sleep outdoors shortly after Rick died and he discovered that the coronavirus pandemic had halted fundraising for North Devon Hospice, which looked after both his neighbor and his wife Sue (who died in 2017) in their final days.
Since first bedding down in Rick's tent on March 28, Max has raised over $50,000 for the hospice through his JustGiving page and now plans to continue the challenge until he hits the 365-day mark.
"I absolutely hated it at first as you're just used to having them close by and checking on them. So I found that really strange," mom Rachael Woosey tells PEOPLE.
"We had a couple of big storms where I don't think I slept at all because I was too busy checking on the tent, but I'm used to it now. I've gone through my churlish stage of threatening to burn the tent so that he'd have to come in!"
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"We've now decided that we're going to embrace it. It's kind of 'Okay, you can do a year!'" she adds. "The main problem is going to say goodnight to him, as you have to put on a coat and shoes and go out in the rain rather than pop upstairs!"
Rachael first said no when Max asked to sleep out but changed her mind after the U.K. went into lockdown in March.
"He wasn't going to school, so we didn't see any reason why we could say no," she says.
The loving mom allowed him to continue his camp out ever since and he now rises at 8 a.m. to come indoors, eat breakfast, shower and start school.
"I'm sure he's reading much later than he's telling us, but we're still at the stage where we think, 'Well, if he's reading, then fine!'" adds Rachael.
With winter fast approaching, the family is also looking to upgrade Max's camping equipment for a second time so that he can safely camp in sub-zero temperatures.
"He can cope with most things," says Rachael. "The only thing he doesn't like is lightning. But to be fair to him, he didn't come in when we had a storm. He saw the lightning and he said, 'I counted to four and then there was thunder, so I knew it was quite far away and I wasn't going to die!'"
"I was sat up in bed Googling whether he should be sleeping in a tent with lightning around, thinking, 'I am such an irresponsible mother!'" she recalls. "But he did it and he didn't come in, so hats off to him because I would have been inside like a shot!"