For Accepted Students

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Rhode Island

I. A Note from the BELL Program Director

Congratulations! We are looking forward to your participation in this unique and engaging program. Please review this carefully with your family and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. Please do NOT finalize travel arrangements or submit final payment for the program until you receive an email from Brown confirming this program.

II. Next Steps for BELL: Rhode Island

You will soon receive a personalized email outlining a checklist of items that need to be completed for you to attend the program. Forms include sections for both students and parents to complete. You can also expect to receive emails with instructions for how to activate your Brown account, pay your balance online, and complete an online tutorial that reviews Brown’s values and policies.

You must complete the following forms to participate in BELL:

  • Off-Campus Programs Student Acceptance and Release and Waiver Form
  • Medical Authorization Form
  • Medical and Immunization Medical Report — Requires a medical provider signature.
  • Off Campus Dietary Form
  • Travel Itinerary

If applicable:

  • Students with significant food allergies or intolerance should complete a complete a Disability Accommodations or Services Request Form. Along with this form, students may need to submit documentation of their area of disability and needs. More information can also be found on the SEAS Website under "School of Professional Studies (SPS) Programs".

Please Read: Important Health Advisory

Due to recent measles outbreaks within the United States, all Pre-College students must have completed their measles vaccinations at least two weeks prior to starting their program. For other immunizations requiring more than one inoculation (such as hepatitis B and varicella), you must submit proof that you have begun the series and had as many of the inoculations (shots) as possible within the time frame/schedule specified on the Brown Immunization and Medical History Report. In this case, you are considered to be in compliance with the requirements for the current summer term.

Dining Services Information

There are resources to help students with food-related allergies and other needs for accommodations to navigate the options in the dining halls. First, please review the overview Resources Guide of how signage and options allow many students to manage without additional accommodations. If more assistance is needed, ongoing dining accommodations are coordinated through the Dining Services dietitian by calling 401-863-3343 or emailing Options could include using an online special meal request system, access to the Allergen Friendly Pantry, and guidance navigating the online information and dining halls. In addition, temporary dining accommodations can be provided using a Chef's card that is available on request when students swipe into one of the two main dining halls, the Sharpe Refectory (Ratty) and the Verney-Woolley (V-Dub). These cards can be used to request a special meal if a student arrives on a weekend and has not yet formally arranged accommodations. These cards will enable a student to request a meal that is gluten free or free of the following allergens: shellfish, soy, dairy, nuts, peanuts, eggs, wheat, alcohol and fish. The menu options using this card are more limited and a meal is provided once the card is received so will take some additional time.

Mandatory Online Program Orientation

There are two online program orientations for you and a parent so the BELL: Rhode Island staff can review important program information and give you an opportunity to ask questions. Even if you cannot attend the live events, please register at the links below so that you can receive a recording of the webinars for review at your convenience. To participate in these orientations, you will need access to a computer or smartphone (download the GoToWebinar app). No webcam necessary.

General BELL Orientation
DATE: Wednesday, May 8 at 6pm EST

Pre-Departure Orientation (All Sessions)
DATE: Friday, June 21 at 3pm EST

III. Packing List

Important Packing Tips:

  1. Bring only what you need. We will be outdoors every day and do not need to be dressed up. If your bag is too heavy to carry by yourself, you have packed too much.
  2. New England summer weather can vary, so check the weather in West Greenwich, RI (zip code: 02817) prior to packing. The packing list below reflects includes items for the potential range of temperatures.
  3. Linens, including pillows, blankets, sheets, and towels will all be provided for you.

Required items:

  • Rain jacket
  • Warm sweatshirt or fleece jacket
  • 1–2 pairs long, lightweight pants for hot weather wear
  • 3–6 pairs of shorts (quick-dry are best)
  • 10–14 t-shirts
  • 2–3 long-sleeve t-shirts
  • Sleep wear
  • Underwear and socks for 12 days
  • Bathing suit
  • Sturdy, close-toed walking shoes (no need for hiking boots)
  • Water shoes (Old tennis shoes, Tevas, Keens, or Crocs w/ back strap; NOT flip flops)
  • Toothbrush and toiletries, feminine products (if needed)
  • Any prescribed medications in their original bottle with a copy of the prescription
  • Prescription glasses or contacts (if needed) and back up pair of glasses if lost or broken
  • Journal or notebook
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Watch (preferably waterproof)

Recommended items:

  • Hat for sun protection
  • Warm hat for cool nights
  • 2 bandannas (to use as table napkins)
  • Beach towel
  • Sun block (30+ SPF)
  • Insect repellent
  • Flip flops (to wear at the lake)
  • Motion sickness patch or medicine (for ferry boat tours)

Optional items:

  • Envelopes and stamps, if you would like to send out letters to family and friends
  • Sketch pads or art materials
  • Inexpensive camera (cannot be part of phone)
  • Musical instrument (We also have a piano on site!)
  • Book to read/independent leisure activities (we do have playing cards, Frisbees, soccer balls, and a few other board games on site)

What not to bring

Students should not bring laptops, tablets, or other valuable electronics. Students are prohibited from bringing illegal drugs, alcohol, and weapons of any sort, including pocket or Swiss Army knives.

Will I be able to do laundry?

There are no public laundry facility at BELL: RI. Students should pack enough clothing for all days of the program.

IV. Student Travel

Directions to Brown University for Arrival Day

Students are responsible for making their own transportation arrangements to Brown University on check-in day.

Brown University Pre-College Programs maintains a detailed website with travel directions and transportation options.

Early Arrival

Students should make every effort to arrive on campus on Sunday between 9am and 11am, however procedures are in place to accommodate a Saturday arrival for students who need to work around flight schedules. The $150 early arrival fee will be waived for BELL RI students arriving on Saturday. Early arrival must be requested in advance of the program. If you meet the early arrival criteria due to long-distance travel, please complete the Early Arrival Request Form in your student portal.

Late Departure

Students should plan to leave Whispering Pines on the Thursday that their session ends. If flight schedules and long distance travel plans necessitate a Friday departure, you must request permission to stay at Brown Thursday night. Please email to make arrangements. There is a $150 per night extended housing fee.

V. Opening and Closing Day Details

Opening Day: Brown University (9am – 11am arrival)

Session 1: Sunday, June 30

Session 2: Sunday, July 14

Session 3: Sunday, July 28

Students should arrive at Brown University's Main Green on opening day.

If your travel is delayed
If you experience a delay while traveling to Providence, please call or text Brown’s BELL On-site Director at 401–523–6218 with your new arrival time, and we will help coordinate your transportation to Whispering Pines Conference Center.

Note: This number will not be active until a few days before the program starts.

Opening Day Schedule

9:00–11:00am* Registration on the Main Green. Please check in no later than 11:00am.
11:30am Brief orientation for students and parents.
12:00pm Bus takes students from Main Green to Whispering Pines Conference Center. (Students will be served lunch upon arrival to Whispering Pines.)

Closing Day: Whispering Pines Conference Center (1pm – 3pm)

Session 1: Thursday, July 11

Session 2: Thursday, July 25

Session 3: Thursday, August 8

Closing Day Schedule

1:00 pm Enjoy the grounds, meet staff and students
1:45 pm Closing presentation
2:00pm Action Plan presentations
3:00pm Depart from Whispering Pines

We strongly encourage parents and families to come to our closing day program. This will be an opportunity for you to see the site, hear Action Plan presentations from the students, and meet the staff. You are welcome to arrive between 1:00pm and 1:45pm on Closing Day.

Note: On Closing Day, we provide bus transportation for students to go to the airport or back to the main Brown University Campus where students may later take a shuttle or taxi to the next leg of their journey home. The bus will depart Whispering Pines at 3:00pm. Students may also depart directly from Whispering Pines with friends or family.

Whispering Pines Conference Center Address & Directions

The BELL: Rhode Island program is located on the URI W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich, RI. To get to Whispering Pines Conference Center, please put the following address in your GPS: 27 Loutitt Lane West Greenwich, RI 02817. Once you are on the URI property, you will follow signs to the Whispering Pines Conference Center. Do not turn off the main road unless you see a sign pointing toward the Whispering Pines Conference Center. Specific directions will be emailed to families ahead of Closing Day.

V. Program Information (FAQ)

About Whispering Pines

BELL: Rhode Island takes place at the Whispering Pines Conference Center, a pristine site that sits on 2,300 acres of forests, lakes, and streams. Whispering Pines Conference Center features a variety of “outdoor classrooms” where students will get to spend time. The property sits right on a large lake and right beside a stream, both of which we’ll be able to study and wade in. In addition, we have a well-equipped kitchen and outdoor areas for all types of sports.

Sleeping quarters are hotel-style rooms with a private bathroom in each room. Each student will sleep on their own bed in a shared room with one other student of the same gender.

What is the daily schedule?

8:30 – 9:00am Breakfast
9:00 – 9:30am Community tasks
9:30 – 11:30am Morning session
11:30 – 12:00pm Free time
12:00 – 1:00pm Solo time
1:00 – 2:00pm Free time
2:00 – 5:00pm Afternoon session
5:00 – 6:00pm Free time
6:00 – 7:00pm Supper
7:00 – 7:45pm Recreation Time
7:45 – 9:00pm Evening program
9:00 – 10:00pm Free time
10:00pm Hall time (hang out in your building)
10:30pm In rooms

Will we be able to swim?

We will be swimming in the lake on some afternoons during the program. The lifeguards will provide a life vest for every student. On a few days of the program, we will be hiking through a stream. Students will need water shoes (please see packing list) for these lessons. Flip-flops are not acceptable. Students are not permitted to swim in the lake or stream outside of supervised lessons or free time.

Is the site secure?

Whispering Pines is located on a private property that includes the site of another overnight summer program (on the opposite side of the property). Trespassers or people not affiliated with a program are strictly forbidden from entering the property. BELL staff live on-site with the students.

Students will have clear guidelines regarding where they can go alone or with a buddy, but the group stays together most of the time. Students will have a few hours of unstructured free time to explore the Brown campus the day we visit Providence. Staff is available for support and assistance 24 hours a day.

What do I need to know about ticks?

As with most outdoor locations in the Northeast, deer ticks that sometimes carry Lyme disease may be present at our site. We take a number of precautions throughout the program, including review with students on high-risk areas, provision of tick identification charts on site, and designated time for three tick checks per day, with a fourth recommended before bed. When students are out in the woods, they are required to wear long pants tucked into permethrin-treated socks. We will provide one pair of treated socks to each student when they arrive at Whispering Pines.

Should a student find a tick on him/herself, our staff works closely with Brown Health Services to implement a protocol that may include a preventative course of antibiotics. Although not required, some families may be interested in purchasing tick repellent clothing prior to the course or having their own clothing treated. Information can be found here:

If your student experiences any flu-like symptoms, joint aches, or a bulls-eye rash upon return home, you should contact your medical provider and inform him/her that your student has been in an area where there are deer ticks that sometimes carry Lyme disease. We have had hundreds of students participate without any problems, but we want you to know about deer ticks and tick-bite prevention should you be unfamiliar with this information.

What is the Action Plan?

At BELL, we help our students define the issues that they are passionate about and construct an Action Plan to address them. We work with you to set realistic goals, identify mentors and resource people, and anticipate challenges. Students participate in leadership and public speaking workshops in preparation for a five-minute Action Plan presentation at the end of the BELL session.

We encourage you to think about some potential Action Plan topics before you come to BELL, but most students don't actually know what their Action Plan will be until they start working on it at BELL. Your instructors will help you design an Action Plan that fits your interests and skills.

Examples of BELL Student Action Plans:

  • Received a grant to install solar panels on a High School
  • Developed composting systems or recycling programs
  • Constructed a wind turbine at school
  • Eliminated Styrofoam in county buildings
  • Published an educational article in an online teen magazine
  • Coordinated an e-waste collection
  • Implemented Meatless Mondays in a school cafeteria

How much homework should I expect?

Students will be provided with a reading pack on the first day and will need to complete daily readings. Students should expect to spend about one hour a day doing work outside of class.

How many students are there?

There is a maximum of 32 students in each BELL session. Usually, there are slightly more females than males. BELL students come from all over the U.S. and the world, and range from 10th grade to graduated seniors.

Will we spend time on the Brown University campus in Providence?

We will spend one full day on campus. Students will have opportunities to meet with faculty and undergraduate students to learn about the curriculum and life at Brown. We will also eat lunch in a campus dining hall.

How much money should I bring?

Meals, snacks, and housing are covered in the program. Students will only need money while traveling to and from Providence and for any incidental expenses. Some students choose to purchase items at the Brown Bookstore the day we visit campus.

How often can I use my cell phone?

When students arrive at BELL, we will collect and secure all electronic devices, including cell phones, tablets, and e-readers. We believe in disconnecting from digital devices to better pay attention to each other and to our natural surroundings. While this may be a difficult ask at first, many former BELL students have expressed that the intentional elimination of technology is one of the things that made their experience more unique and enjoyable and that it allowed them to get to know each other better.

For the first few days of BELL, students will not have access to their phones. This gives us time to form a community and get acquainted. After a few days, students will have their phones back in the evening (we can make accommodations for students to speak with families who are in other time zones during this day). When we are in Providence on campus, students will again have their phones.

How can I contact my student during the session?

Parents may call the BELL Rhode Island On-site Director at (401) 523–6218 with urgent requests or concerns. Students will also have their phones back for two days of the program, including the day they are on campus at Brown University.

Health and Wellness

Dietary Restrictions and Medical Conditions

We will work with the staff to make accommodations for dietary restrictions and food allergies if we are notified in advance. Students must communicate significant food allergies that require meal accommodations (e.g. gluten, shellfish, soy, eggs, milk) on the Off-Campus Dietary Concerns Form (located in your checklist). Please also indicate any dietary preferences, including vegetarians and vegans, to allow us to plan accordingly.

What if I take prescription medication or need medical attention?

The On-Site Director or his/her designee will collect and store all prescription medications on the first day of the program. Students must be responsible for requesting and taking prescribed dosage. Students with life-saving asthma and anaphylaxis medications (e.g., inhalers and epi-pens) must keep them on their person at all times.

All students who are taking prescription medications should bring prescribed medication in its original container and a copy of their prescription. Having a copy of the original prescription will enable us to replace medication if needed.

Students with minor health concerns can be seen at Brown University Health Services Monday through Friday, during business hours. For minor problems, in the evenings or weekends, we have a well-equipped first aid kit and staff certified in first aid. In the case of a medical emergency, students will be transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence.

VI. Policies

Code of Conduct

Please review the Brown Pre-College Code of Conduct.

Financial Information

The payment deadline for the program is Wednesday, May 22. Students must be paid in full PRIOR to the start of the program. Please review our financial policies, including payment and refund information.


Students will receive a Course Performance Report, written by program staff and will also be asked to complete a course evaluation. Students who successfully complete the program will receive a Certificate of Completion. All completion materials including the evaluation will be sent 6 weeks after the program concludes. The certificate will be sent via US Mail but other items will be sent electronically to the student email we have on file.

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