We LIVE for stories of perseverance, grittiness, and determination. We hear them all the time from racers in our community, but we also love to report on inspirational stories from OUTSIDE the Spartan Universe — stories that we can learn from, that can help us become even more unbreakable. In Tough News, we share what we're hearing and what's grabbing our attention, and why Spartans need to pay attention.
Proving his mettle, this young teen turned pandemic challenges into a year of memories.
He may not realize it, but William Olmstead is the very model of a Spartan kid. According to a local report in his hometown of Wilton, Conn., the 13-year-old boy turned pandemic lemons into lemonade. Olmstead demonstrated rare discipline, dedication, and work ethic by choosing to spend every night from April 2020 to April 2021 in a backyard tent.
Olmstead is a Boy Scout, accustomed to taking part in a variety of scouting activities, including a monthly campout. With the pandemic shutting it all down, Olmstead decided to persevere and not let COVID steal all of his favorite things. That meant pitching his tent in his backyard — at first only once a week or so, but eventually every night.
Throughout the year, Olmstead’s younger brother or one of his parents joined him on occasion. But on plenty of nights — including during the cold-winter months — it was just the boy himself, some extra blankets, and his tent. When he finally hit his milestone “year and a night” goal in early April of this year, Olmstead reported that he wanted to achieve something that no other local Boy Scout had in the past.
Spartan Traits on Display
Setting a big, daunting goal and then seeing it through is about as Spartan as it gets. Olmstead knew he’d be facing not just cold nights, but other discomforts, too, in order to get through his 12-month-plus journey. He was giving up a warm, comfy bed; a bathroom right down the hall; and the security of sleeping in a house with his parents and brother nearby. That’s not to mention no electricity and probably more than a few frightening noises while outside all by himself. But none of that deterred him and over the course of a year, Olmstead proved himself more than worthy of his ambitions.
The scout also demonstrated resilience — something that today’s much-shielded youth are often missing. With no school, no vacations, few interactions with friends, and no scouting activities, Olmstead still forged ahead. He took difficult circumstances and turned them into the experience of a lifetime, something he will carry with him into future challenges.
Olmstead undoubtably grew and matured over the course of a year, learning to fend for himself to some degree. Yes, his family was only a short walk away, but Olmstead had only himself to rely on if something went amiss — a leaky tent, for instance, or an animal scratching at his zip-up tent flap. Learning to face down adversity and make it through to the other side, are skills that will serve the scout well, even into adulthood.
At a time when many kids were hooked to their screens, Olmstead chose the hard way — proving that his consistency and tenacity can lead to big rewards. And we’re betting he’ll hold that "year and a night" record for some time to come.