"Boatbuilding gives me focus and ideas about what I'd like to do in the future. If I want to build something, I now know how."

- Ethan, Student at St. Mary's School for the Deaf

Our educational programs use wooden boatbuilding as an opportunity for students to learn STEM principles (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), practice quality craftsmanship, and gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Experiential learning at the BMC offers a non-traditional setting for students to learn applicable life-skills and gain professional development. Typically, our programs are well-suited for high school students, but we adapt to suit the needs of younger students and families.

Students involved in our educational programs will:

  • Learn real-life applications of STEM and design principles
  • Understand and display the importance of craftsmanship
  • Demonstrate safety awareness, communication-skills, self-confidence, and heightened levels of curiosity
  • Engage in problem-solving skills and techniques through experiential learning
  • Have pride in something that they’ve built with their hands
  • Experience on-the-water programming and learn aspects of aquatic biology

We currently offer two programs:



“There is a moment in the boatbuilding process where the Master Boatbuilder hands a tool to the Apprentice. That is the moment, that Hand-to-Hand exchange, where knowledge is passed from one generation to another.”

- Roger Allen, Master Boatbuilder

In BMC’s Hand-to-Hand Program, students from partner schools and community organizations are invited to the Buffalo Maritime Center’s shop as a credited class or as an afterschool program during the school year. The students in our Hand-to-Hand Program build three different boat designs, depending on the partnering school: the Six-Hour Canoe, the Olmsted Skiff, and the St. Ayles Skiff. At the end of the school year, students visit Hoyt Lake to launch the boats they’ve built! The boats are then offered as rentals to the general public at Hoyt Lake during the summer.




The Navigator Program is a new initiative that brings experiential learning to the community via our Boatmobile, equipped with all the tools necessary to build a wooden boat. Similar to the Hand-to-Hand Program, students work with a crew and are guided by BMC staff and volunteer mentors to build a Six-Hour Canoe. The Navigator Program is accessible and accommodating with a range of programming options.



BMC’s educational programs exist because of passionate, dedicated, and committed volunteers. Adult and student mentors accompany us during both our Hand-to-Hand and Navigator Programs to provide students with diverse styles of mentorship and career advice that are crucial for their professional development. We aim to continue expanding our programs and need dedicated volunteers to accompany us. We are always looking for mentors who are passionate about education and hands-on, minds-on learning. Please inquire about becoming a mentor!

If you are interested in the Navigator Program for your organization or if you’d like to become a mentor in our educational programs, please contact:

Chelsea Moore
BMC Education and Community Outreach Coordinator