What’s “Merrohawke?”


In summer 2013 we recognized that we had outgrown our name, BOAT CAMP Nature School. We no longer offer only summer programs only aboard boats. We began searching for just the right phrase that invites a story of all that we do, a word that honors the past, celebrates the present and inspires the future. We didn’t have to search far, for we found our inspiration right by the water’s edge. The Merrimack River is the heartbeat of all that we do. We plan our days by her tides, follow her currents out to sea and home again, and offer our gratitude for the headwaters and snow melt that flows  down from the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Certainly we are not the first to fall in love with the Merrimack River. She has been known by many tribes, many towns, many mariners, poets and painters, and called many different names that honor the deep winding waters, once full of sturgeon. The Agawam, some historians believed, referred to the river as “merruh auke” or “merroh awke,” meaning “strong place.”

We believe time in nature makes kids stronger, and we believe the Merrimack River, as she became known, gives exceptional character to our community with her constant beauty, rhythms, and wildlife that call her watershed home. In honor of the river’s resilience, endurance and strength, and in honor and acknowledgement of the indigenous peoples whose lands we now walk upon, we changed our name to Merrohawke Nature School in March 2014. In May, Sly Fox, an elder active with the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, gathered with Merrohawke staff and friends to conduct a blessing ceremony of our new name by the water’s edge on Plum island.

BOAT CAMP shall forever remain a program name reserved for our ocean-going programs held aboard our F/V Erica Lee