(HUNTINGDON, Pa.) — A college senior from Juniata College in Pennsylvania has been garnering lots of attention for choosing to live in a self-made hut for the past seven months in the woods about a mile outside campus.
But even more improbable is that student Dylan Miller, 22, says he has already been living outdoors consistently for the past two years.
“I got sick of living in the dorms, and I thought I could save $4,000 a semester living outside, where I love to be,” Miller told ABC News on Friday. “I’d set up hammocks in the woods, and I took shelter inside caves during the colder months.”
Last summer, his dad suggested he live in the woods for his senior project like American writers Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom he had read avidly, Miller said.
Miller started building the circular hut in June in Juniata’s Baker-Henry Nature Reserve using materials like donated wooden planks for the floors, fallen branches for the walls and tarp for the roof, he said.
The makeshift structure is minimally furnished: there’s a small kitchen table and writing desk he built himself along with a small foldable bed and a chest for his clothes, he said.
Miller also has a small cooking stove and outdoor fire pit for cooking, and he showers in communal bathrooms on campus, he said, adding he also goes to campus to do computer work since he lives by candlelight in the hut near the Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, school founded by the Christian denomination Church of the Brethren.
And as for the cold, Miller said he’s fine in 30-degree weather.
“I always wear shorts, and I only wore pants once this winter when the snow was really deep,” he said. “I also never wear a jacket.”
Miller admitted he has a portable propane heater for when it’s below 10 degrees.
The survivalist enthusiast has also had run-ins with bears, his mother Amy Miller told ABC News Friday.
“I visited him one night last September, and I heard a bear snuffing around, and I was concerned,” she said. “He just went, ‘Oh, yeah, that must be the female bear who lives around here,’ really matter-of-factly.”
The minimalist outdoor living Miller is undertaking is all for his final undergraduate project called “Content With Nothing,” he said.
“The goal isn’t to renounce society but to retreat into the woods and bring back the lessons I’ve learned living more simply,” Miller said.
After he graduates, he will tear down the hut and live in an apartment in town, he said.
“You don’t ever want to be stuck in a groove, and you should want to refresh yourself,” he said. “It’s pretty hard for me to sleep inside at this point, so that’ll be something I’ll have to adjust to.”
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