Below is a story shared by Dakota Pilicy, age 16, at Merrohawke's 2018 Auction event
I’d like to tell you a story, a true story
Once, there was a little boy who loved to explore. He was a free spirit, inspired and at peace as he walked through the woods or along the shore with his parents by his side. He grew watching his father, an arborist and landscaper, care for the environment all around him, and his mother, a scientist and a teacher, work in a marine lab and teach children about nature. The stories they told him of their work inspired him. He would climb trees with his dad and his brothers, swim in the pond, walk the beach and dig in the dirt, the sand, the mud. And he liked to build lots, and lots of tree forts.
One day, His father was in an accident. Everything changed.
His father had sustained a spinal cord injury, and couldn’t walk or do things he loved as easily. The little boy could no longer do what he used to do with his dad, and his mother knew how much he missed it, and she was doing even more than before.
The little boy was confused.
Around this time his mother heard about a Nature School in Newburyport. When she found Merrohawke, she knew it was the perfect place for her son to grow. It sounded too good to be true, a place where he could pursue his passion for exploring nature within a supportive community.
The only way he could attend - was if he there was some form of financial help. His mom couldn’t believe there was a scholarship application so that all children could access their programs, and they applied. The boy was granted his first scholarship.
At Merrohawke, he found others like himself, children in love and at peace with nature, and mentors that he could trust. He fished and explored the Isle of Shoals, and learned the stories of its history. He was buried up to his neck in the mud of Plum Island. He rowed upriver, and slept under the stars at Sawyer’s Island, telling ghost stories by the campfire.
He loved Merrohawke, and after many summers attending, he was Honored to be selected to volunteer as an apprentice alongside his mentors. As an apprentice, he learned how to be in a position of leadership. He learned to teach children, and grew in a place where he felt respected.
That young man is in high school now, he is on the honor roll, he has earned a safe boating license, and looking toward a bright future studying marine biology and environmental science in college.
Ladies and Gentlemen that boy is here tonight. And I would like to introduce him.
That young man is me.
For me, Merrohawke is not just an outdoor program. It’s not a camp. It has been a Sacred place where we can grow interests in the outdoors, bonds with friends, and creativity in the natural world.
Merrohawke for the past seven years, has been one of the most important and enjoyable parts of my life. It has helped me to find my true calling, and fuel my passions. It has given me a sense of gratitude and responsibility.
Without Merrohawke in my life, and without the Mentors and sponsors who have been there to help my family and I when needed most….I would have missed these invaluable experiences.
I know how much the scholarship helped me, and I Understand how much it will help other kids, and there are so many other children who need this program, thank you for your generous support.
Please. Fund the Future today.
"One of the salient problems facing us today
is children's alienation from the natural world.
They are too creeped out to touch earthworms,
they don't know where their food comes from,
and they are afraid to walk in the forest alone.
Or, if they are in the forest, they can't see the forest for their iPhones.
We, and our children, are easily seduced by the panoply of digital treats.
It is so much easier to be a couch potato than to plant potatoes.
The result is that twenty-first-century children spend
eight hours a day interacting with digital media,
and only 30 minutes a day outside.
[Let's] shape a generation of young adults who are grounded in nature,
selectively mature in their use of technology,
and committed to environmental preservation."
- author David Sobel
Your philanthropic support makes it possible for Merrohawke to serve 2,200 youth annually from families living within a 50-mile radius of Newburyport, Mass. It is our vision that every child will grow into an adult able and committed to better our world, and with this intention in our hearts and minds, we are committed to guiding learning in nature that inspires empathy, resilience, grit and a deep connection to the earth.