After 2.5 years of sleeping outside, Ortman prefers to be out in snow, rain, and wind instead of the heat and humidity of the summer.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 3, 2023. It has since been updated.
Sleeping under the stars is something we all dream of. But a 14-year-old named Isaac Ortman actually made this dream possible for himself. Ortman who is from Duluth, Minnesota has slept under the stars for more than 1000 days. He doesn’t even mind sleeping out on days when it's freezing cold and the temperature is at -38 degrees. It all started as a self-challenge for Ortman when he was 11 years old at his family’s cabin about 30 miles away from his home. Now, it’s a daily routine for Ortman and he wants to continue this until he is in high school or even longer, as reported by The Washington Post.
On January 12, Ortman completed the 1000th night and to celebrate that, he cozied up inside a snow shelter called quinzhee that he and his scouting friends from Troop 15 built at Lakeside Presbyterian Church in Duluth. Though the 14-year-old scout boy usually sleeps in his backyard, for his big milestone, his parents allowed him to sleep alone in the quinzhee next to the building where he goes for scout meetings with his dad, Andrew Ortman, the troop’s scoutmaster.
For more than 1,000 nights, a Duluth Scout named Isaac Ortman has slept outside: "It's just fun." https://t.co/axj0qF2JrP— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) January 20, 2023
His father said that he “never gets tired of it” as every night is a new adventure for him. He shared that his son wanted to sleep outside even after he broke his left wrist in an accident. Ortman narrated, “We came home from the emergency room, and I went back outside like I always do." “It’s like the time we saw a bear walk up to our patio door. 30 minutes later, I was brushing my teeth and getting ready to go to sleep outside.” His mother, Melissa, was a little worried that night but his father allowed him to sleep out after the bear left. Now after 1000 nights, Melissa said that he has their trust.
Ortman started sleeping on a hammock and a sleeping bag instead of his bed on April 17, 2020. He recalled it was the beginning of the pandemic when more people were heading outdoors. He said, “I was sleeping outside at our cabin, and I thought, ‘Wow I should beat my own record for sleeping outside for a week.” So he ended up sleeping outside the whole time during vacation and he kept doing it. He usually sleeps in his clothes, and he has an insulated hood that keeps him warm during the winter. “It goes over my entire face and clinches up so just my nostrils are out,” said Ortman.
After 2.5 years of sleeping outside, Ortman prefers to be out in the snow, rain, and wind instead of the heat and humidity of the summer. “Unless it’s below zero, I like to stick one of my legs out at night, so I don’t get too hot,” he said. “If you’re cold, you can always put on layers. But in the summer, there’s only so much you can take off.”
Wow! 🤯 14-year-old Isaac Ortman has spent 1000 consecutive nights sleeping outside in a structure he built called a "quinzee" (snow cave). Isaac is currently a Star Trooper, just two levels below an Eagle Scout. More power to you, Isaac! 🔥— Michele Weslander-Quaid (@MWeslanderQuaid) January 14, 2023
Now their family vacations also require a lot of planning as Ortman and his father sleep in the campground and his mom and older sister, Lilly, stay in a motel. Moreover, he has slept in the family’s fishing boat when it’s parked in motel parking lots. “I guess a lot of people might find it a little unusual, but to us, it’s now a normal routine,” said the 14-year-old’s father. “I’m proud of Isaac for sticking with it. A bad snowstorm, a migraine headache, a leaky tent - nothing gets him down. He’s really learned to persevere.”