Eli has been saving for years and runs the treehouse with his mom
Who doesn’t love visiting a quaint Airbnb for the weekend to get out of the everyday monotony of life? How about one in the woods of beautiful Murphy, North Carolina, owned and operated by a nine-year-old boy named Eli. The best part? It’s a dreamy treehouse, and the proceeds from your stay are donated to charity.
“Inspired by Tree house Master’s my son began planning, investing with his own money into his tree house,” Eli’s mom, Rachel, wrote on the Airbnb listing. “The project began as a piece of plywood in the trees to shoot nerf guns from. Then, he decided he’d build it top-notch with his own funds and three years’ worth of birthday gifts of 2×4’s to put this house on Airbnb so he could use his profits for charity. Enjoy the rustic, classy & up to date amenities tucked in the woods.”
While it’s a dream come true now, Eli has been working and saving for years to reach his dream job of hosting an Airbnb. “I was 6 when I started working on my treehouse,” Eli tells Scary Mommy. To make money, he began selling everything from glitter bombs to firecrackers and other small crafts and saved his birthday money.
Rachel tells Scary Mommy her son is basically a natural at owning a business — while being a kid. “We’ve had an Airbnb on our property since he was 5, so he’s been used to greeting new folks every couple of days, washing sheets and playing with their new kids. When he was younger, he thought they were my friends that were visiting because I always referenced our Airbnb guests as our ‘friends.’ He didn’t realize they were paying for their stay!”
“I encourage him daily to think about creating, inventing and practicing sustainability with any new idea,” Rachel told us. “He began building it with his own money because I asked him to, so that we could have an in-depth learning experience around creating, inventing, and math — and then he started thinking about the sustainability aspect of his treehouse. That’s when he came up with the Airbnb idea about a year and a half later after he already spent about $4,000 into it.”
The results are a beautiful space for guests to stay in the woods with a grill, lake access, and plenty of fun climbing options for kids. Being a nine-year-old business owner, the natural next question for this young entrepreneur is “Will there be more?” Rachel says for now, this is enough of a commitment. “It was so much work and took so long to realize the treehouse that now we’d like to have time to have it run smoothly and produce the funds to invest in the families we are looking forward to feeding with the profits, through our nonprofit ‘Raise the Bar,'” she said. “We really hope and believe that people will also want to stay with us knowing what their money will achieve at large for other people, and we want to inspire others.”
“We really all can make a difference, including by choosing where we spend our money — and optimizing for dedicating our spending power to the betterment of people long term,” she says.
The trust and commitment this mother/son duo share is inspiring and shows how working hard can result in the greater good for others and for himself. The treehouse, Rachel says, “has resulted in Eli learning to think about things creatively, explore options, have conversations and follow through” and become a better communicator “because he is in constant conversations with people from all around the world that visit.”
Her advice for other families thinking about building a business with their kids? “I think kids just need to be listened to and when they are, they listen to us adults,” Rachel says. “Then the magic of relationship deepens effortlessly.”