The temperature in Minnesota recently dropped to a blistering low of negative 27 degrees Fahrenheit, but that wasn’t cold enough to deter Rudy Hummel. What started as a personal challenge to sleep outside for a year has since morphed into a selfless mission for the 17-year-old to ensure that people and animals have homes. As part of his Snores Outdoors for a Better World campaign, this Hermantown, Minn., native is raising money for Habitat for Humanity and the local Hawk Ridge Bird Conservatory while building awareness for social and environmental issues. “I thought about what’s important to me, like the outdoors. I also thought about how many people have to sleep outside all the time, without sleeping bags or warm clothing,” Hummel wrote on his website. “At first glance, these don’t seem very well connected, but to me they are. Caring for people is important, and so is caring for the environment that sustains us. We all live on this planet together.”
MORE: How One School Discovered More Sleep Means Smarter Teens
Hummel moved outside on June 7, 2013, in warmer weather. At first, the avid camper figured he’d try to sleep on a tree platform he built in his backyard for the entirety of the summer. But as fall breezed in, he realized that the challenge he had given himself simply wasn’t hard enough, so he decided to keep going. As Minnesota’s brutal winter arrived, Hummel realized he needed some sort of shelter to keep him warm, so like any good Boy Scout, he improvised and built himself a quinzhee, a hut-like structure made from snow. In the recently freezing weather, Hummel simply adds extra layers of warm clothing, fills a bottle with hot water and heads out to his hut, where he crawls under a pile of blankets at night. So far Hummel has raised almost $900 for his local Habitat for Humanity chapter, and $300 for Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. As for his health, he says he’s doing just fine. “I’m about as warm as I would be inside, I think,” he recently told CNN’s NewDay. “But I haven’t slept inside in so long that maybe that’s not true.”
ALSO: Not Even Brain Cancer Could Stop This 10-Year-Old From Caring About the Homeless