"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." -Frederick Douglass
Since 2011, Right Tree, an Elk Rapids-based 501(c)(3) has been using outdoor recreation, adventure programming and community service to help girls discover their worth, their gifts, their voice and their future.
Growing up has never been more challenging. On top of the "normal" issues in the lives of teens, the negative, judgmental, predatory nature of social media coupled with the hyper-sexualized airbrushed fantasy world around them has girls struggling with identity, anxiety and depression as never before.
As empathy fades, friendships struggle, face-to-face conversation disappears and girls’ self-worth is battered, our technology-free, spend-time-together events help girls discover they are not alone in their struggles, they were created for a purpose, they bring something to this world no one else does, they are enough just they way they are, their circumstances do not control their future, and they are growing into someone even more amazing. Our focus is to speak positively into girls' lives in creative, challenging, encouraging and life-changing ways to help every girl believe and live our motto: Every Girl Matters!
"Right Tree helped me view people differently. It was like putting on new glasses. Instead of focusing on external characteristics, I've learned to look for internal qualities. This skill has allowed me to be happy with myself based on my inside qualities, and to be a better judge of people."
Within a framework of challenge, adventure and over-the-top fun, girls are provided with safe, encouraging settings and opportunities to share, discuss and address critical issues in their lives. Working in groups and one-on-one with staff, every drop-in, day-camp-style, and multi-day trip is themed to address topics like social media, relationships, boys, the lies in our lives, emotional intelligence, grit, anxiety, drama or gratitude. New friendships develop over shared challenges, pre-conceived notions fall away as girls share common struggles, and confidence grows as girls recognize and realize their possibility and potential.
"Right Tree has affected me very much, I've become more confident. I deal with situations way better than I would have in the past. Right Tree has also pushed me to go out of my comfort zone and do things I never thought I would be able to do, but I did them!"
While Right Tree is not specifically a Christian organization, and welcomes anyone & everyone regardless of their beliefs, every person involved in leadership has a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As we work though issues and questions facing teens, Jesus will be part of those conversations because He is part of our stories. Our foundational belief in the inherent worth and potential of every person comes from the knowledge we are each uniquely created by a God who loves and celebrates us.
Each summer we interview, screen, and hire college-age female staff from across the U.S. with degrees, or completing their degrees in education, recreation, social work or a related field. All have a love for junior high girls and all bring extensive experience working with youth in a variety of settings. They have a passion for sharing their stories and speaking positively into girl's lives. Our programs are very staff-driven around the gifts and talents each staff member brings. Employees often return for multiple summers but we always look forward to welcoming new staff to the Right Tree family.
Oversite, direction and visioning are provided by a dedicated Board of Directors. Serving as volunteers, they provide steady guidance and wisdom in meeting the challenges of running a charity in the 21st century.
President, Craig Mosher, founder of Right Tree & local business owner, Elk Rapids, MI
Secretary, Gerry Mayes, LPC, 334 Court Director (ret), Traverse City, MI
Treasurer, Bruce Banwell, Bruce's Excavating, Bellaire, MI
Jeff Hawkins, consultant, founder of HOPE CSA, North Manchester, IN
Lindsay Banwell, Great Lakes Water Permitting, Bellaire, MI
Beth Pryde, Wellness Consultant, Metro Fire Dept, Mgr. Harbor FitnessElk Rapids
Charissa Hayden, High School English Teacher, Minnetonka High, Hopkins, MN
"We are so grateful for what Right Tree did for our daughter! Her confidence & self-worth are so much more solid."