13-year-old sleeps in backyard tent for a year and a day

13-year-old sleeps in backyard tent for 366 nights
13-year-old sleeps in backyard tent for 366 n... 02:06

Last Updated Apr 9, 2021 7:13 PM EDT

Wilton, Connecticut — William Olmstead, 13, says to build strong character, you need to step outside your comfort zone. So he did just that — quite literally. 

Olmstead, a Boy Scout, loved camping until COVID-19 came along. So he thought, what better way to challenge himself than to pitch a tent behind his house and sleep there longer than any backyard camper ever has?

He slept in his tent every night for a year and a day. 

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William Olmstead in his backyard tent in Wilton, Connecticut.  CBS News

"Stopping him from doing anything is a fool's errand," his dad, Bill Olmstead, said. 

So Olmstead's parents went along with it. They let him give up his warm, cozy bed in exchange for howling coyotes and bitter cold, blizzards, sweltering heat — and worse. A hurricane swept through the family's property at one point, but Olmstead still slept in his tent. 

"That night we also put the tent under the deck to protect from the wind," Bill Olmstead said. 

Six trees fell down on their property that day. In Bill Olmstead's defense, the bulk of the storm had passed by nightfall and his son is a hurricane in his own right. 

"If I start something, I have to finish it. And if I don't finish it, I would be so upset," the teenager said. 

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William Olmstead slept in his backyard tent every night for just over a year.  CBS News

Parents often push their kids, but to achieve success the prod has to come from within.

Olmstead was determined to sleep outside a full year — and this week he made it. His next goal is to end world hunger. He doesn't know how yet, but you can bet he's sleeping on it tonight.


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  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.