My neighbour Rick gave me his tent shortly before he died and told me to “have an adventure” in it. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since we went into lockdown. I’ve now been sleeping in my garden, in a tent, for exactly 475 nights and I doubt I’ll ever sleep in my bed again.
When we were in the first lockdown, I heard about the problems some charities were having as they couldn’t fundraise anymore. I wanted to help the North Devon hospice as they took such good care of Rick in his final days, so I started fundraising by sleeping in my tent. I’ve now raised over £600,000 which makes me proud, as the hospice hasn’t had to make any cuts in the number of people they look after or the staff that work there.
At night, I usually take a copy of the Beano, a torch and lots of teddies into my tent for company. Most of my tough moments have been down to the weather but I keep focused on staying there until the sun rises. I like listening to the sound of the rain from my tent, as it gets me to sleep quickly. I sleep better outdoors now.
To mark my one-year anniversary of camping out, I invited children across the world to join me on Max’s Big Camp Out. Around 1,000 kids took part on the night, which was really cool – some were even from America and Singapore.
I wanted to carry on doing something for kids, so I took my adventure to a whole new level last week by pitching my tent in London Zoo to raise money for vulnerable children across the UK, as part of Action for Children’s “Boycott Your Bed” sleepout. I hope I inspired others to have their own adventure and sleep somewhere unusual for the night.
I became a “zookeeper by night”, helping to care for the animals – I prepared late night snacks for the zoo’s two porcupines, scattered nuts and seeds for the gorilla and sorted a scent trail for a Sumatran tiger called Asim. The best part was giving breakfast to the Madagascan ring-tailed lemurs, as they jump everywhere. I imagine it was like being on a safari.
Later that week, my adventure also took me to one of the most famous addresses in the world. I was able to pitch my tent and boycott my bed for Action for Children at 10 Downing Street with the prime minister. Dilyn the dog joined me in my tent and took off with one of my teddies which was funny. It was hard to catch him to get it back.
I want to keep camping out in my tent as I feel I’m doing some good. Children can really make a difference if they believe in themselves. If I could give some advice it would be, just give it a go. You can do so much more than you think.
I’m going to keep going until I decide on my next adventure. Mum wants me to come inside but I’m having too much fun. Guess what we’re doing for our summer holiday? We’re going camping!
Max Woosey is supporting Action for Children’s ‘Boycott Your Bed’ sleepout. To find out more visit actionforchildren.org.uk
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