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Powerful Women Series: The girls of Right Tree Adventure Camp

Right Tree campers pose in front of Grand Traverse County home they helped repair.
Right Tree campers pose in front of Grand Traverse County home they helped repair.
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GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY - This summer, the roof on Betsy Warren’s home was about to collapse. But when she learned she would be getting some help patching it up, she never dreamed it would be from a group of middle school girls.

"I was blown away!" said Warren. "I couldn't believe it, it's something I've never seen before. "

The girls at Right Tree Adventure Camp spent a week with Freedom Builders at homes throughout northern Michigan. They're repairing roofs, painting and making a difference in the communities they live in.

"Girls don't usually get to use nail guns and power tools and whatnot," said Craig Mosher, Right Tree's board president. "They're very much into it."

Right Tree is a Elk Rapids based non-profit that helps girls discover their worth through positive experiences. It's open to any middle school girl in the school district, and parents pay only if they can. Each week is a different adventure. They do everything from book clubs to hiking trips in the mountains.

This year, Mosher wanted to add community service week to the program. He got the idea by watching how his own kids grew up.

"A lot of [service projects] were raising money for your uniforms or computers at your school," he said. "Not really the altruistic, you do things because it's the right thing to do."

Mosher said girls were hesitant to sign up for the service week, but it's going over very well.

“I feel really happy that I got to help this woman that I probably wouldn’t never known was in this situation, and to help her live in her house a few more years," said Olivia Ferguson, who's been a camper for three years. "I’m happy with myself that I got over my fear of heights and actually did stuff on roof.”

In a program that aims to empower girls by pushing them out of their comfort zone, the construction projects have been a perfect fit.

“A lot of them have these fears and they don’t really know why," said Right Tree Program Director Charissa Hayden. "It’s just society tells them 'Oh you’re a girl so you shouldn’t do these things,' and they do them and they realize it’s not that bad and they actually enjoy it.”

Not to mention, the satisfaction that comes with knowing you made a difference in someone's life.

“I think in today’s society, that its really impressive that they’re giving up and doing things for other people,” Warren said.

Read more about Right Tree's service week in the latest issue of Grand Traverse Woman magazine, on newsstands now.

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To learn more about Right Tree, click here.

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