Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL): Eastern Sierras

Enrolled student information for BELL: Eastern Sierras

Welcome to Brown University Pre-College Programs

We are looking forward to your participation in this unique and engaging program. Please review these pages carefully with your family and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. Students and families can speak with a Program Advisor by calling 401-863-7900 during business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST) or by email at


Important Dates

Be sure all of your forms and payment are completed by their assigned deadline:

April 12: Full payment and all required forms 

Students registered after these deadlines are expected to complete form requirements and make payment within 48 hours of registration.

April 20: Program Confirmation (on or before April 20)

Don't buy your plane tickets until you receive a program confirmation. 

Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. EST: Mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation Session


There will be a mandatory online program orientation for you and a member of your family on Thursday, May 9, 2023 at 7 p.m. EST, so please plan accordingly to be able to attend. You will receive an email invitation to this information session that will include a link to register. To participate in this orientation, you will need access to a computer or smartphone (no webcam is necessary, but useful if you’d like to use it).


You should log in to your student portal to complete your pre-program requirements. Parents/guardians also receive a checklist of items to complete, sent via email, so please remind them to check their email accounts for this important information that requires action.

The usernames and passwords associated with your Brown email address will be needed prior to and during your course time. Please be sure to document all usernames and passwords.


Forms are submitted electronically through DocuSign, an electronic signature provider where you can digitally complete and sign your required forms and waivers, as well as upload your required Physician’s Immunization and Medical Record, signed by a medical provider. Most forms include sections for both students and parents/guardians to complete.

Accessibility Services

If applicable, you may request accommodations based on a learning, psychological and/or physical disability, including medical conditions, temporary injuries and food allergies. Please be aware that all accommodation requests will be considered, however, there may be limits as to what can be provided without sufficient notice. Be sure to submit your requests using the Medical Authorization and Health History Form by April 12. Please also indicate dietary preferences, including vegetarians and vegans, to allow us to plan accordingly. We will work with the staff to make accommodations for dietary restrictions and food allergies if we are notified in advance. Please email if you have any questions or concerns.

Communicating with Classmates

All students will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and get to know their peers during pre-departure orientation, on Canvas and on the first day of the program. 

COVID-19 Information 

Please visit our FAQ page for updates and information about Brown Pre-College Programs preparedness, action and response to COVID-19. Students attending BELL Programs are expected to follow the same Health and Safety Protocols as students attending on-campus programs. There may be additional protocol implemented by a partner lodging site, field trip or local airport. Any additional information specific to this program will be provided on this page once finalized.

Important Packing Tips

  • There is limited space in the dorm rooms: bring only what you need. Soft-sided bags are best for fitting in small spaces. Reminder: most airlines charge extra for luggage weighing over 50 lbs.
  • Weather can vary significantly. Please check the weather in Mammoth Lakes, California (93546), Reno, Nevada (89433) and some of the program field trip sites, such as Tuolumne Meadows (95389) and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (93514) prior to packing. Some evenings during the program may dip into temperatures as low as 40°F (5°C). 
  • Bring clothing that is easily washable or that you do not mind getting dirty.
  • It is best to dress in layers during BELL. For example, you might end up wearing leggings or long pants, rain pants, a T-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a rain jacket and hiking boots. On other days, you may be wearing quick-dry shorts, a T-shirt and a rain jacket. 
  • There is no access to laundry facilities during BELL: Eastern Sierras. Students should pack enough clothing to last the entire program.

What is Provided

You will reside at the dorm building at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory in Mammoth Lakes, California in shared rooms with bathrooms located in the hallway. These rooms will include: one twin bed per person and some storage areas. You are responsible for supplying your own bedding, towels and toiletries. 

On the last night of the program, you will stay at a hotel in Reno, Nevada to accommodate a smoother departure day. You will stay in a private or shared hotel room equipped with linens, towels and a private bathroom.

What to Bring

  • 1 suitcase or duffle bag for all items. If you can’t carry it, it is too big/heavy
  • Linens, including blankets, sheets, pillow and towels for a “twin, extra-long" bed (36 by 80 inches, about 6 inches thick)
  • 1 sleeping bag or blanket 
  • Pillow (or to reduce bulk, bring a pillow case and stuff it with clothes)
  • 1 bath towel
  • Small day/backpack that can be used on hikes and as a carry-on for airplane
  • Sturdy, closed toe shoes that can be worn for hiking (hiking boots are not required; shoes may get muddy/dirty)
  • Sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • 3 to 6 pairs of pants and/or leggings (quick-dry material preferred)
  • 3 to 5 pairs of shorts
  • Polar fleece and/or warm layers 
  • 2 to 3 long sleeve shirts (for layering)
  • T-shirts
  • Warm hat (e.g., a beanie)
  • Good rain gear (both rain jacket and rain pants)
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Any prescribed medications and a copy of original prescription
  • Government-issued photo ID (for airplane)
  • Blank journal and writing implements
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Toothbrush and toiletries (we recommend using small sample sizes that can be purchased at drug stores or using items provided by hotels)
  • Reusable water bottle 
  • Phone charger
  • Flip flops or other types of shower shoes
  • Extra blanket and/or sleeping bag
  • Light gloves
  • Antihistamines (such as calamine lotion, Zyrtec, Claritin, Benadryl to treat mosquito bites)
  • Insect repellant
  • Eye mask and ear plugs to sleep more comfortably
  • Plastic bags to store wet or dirty items
  • Camera
  • Art supplies
  • Musical instrument
  • Your favorite board game
  • Book to read/independent leisure activities
  • Your preferred snacks

What Not to Bring

You may NOT bring pets or weapons of any sort, including pocket or Swiss army knives. You should not bring computers, tablets or other valuable electronics.

Spending Money

All your food and housing is covered in the program fee as well as entry fees to various sites. You will only need money while you are traveling to and from Reno, Nevada. We will have one or two occasions to purchase souvenirs, if you so choose, and those can be purchased with cash or, in most cases, credit or debit cards.

Flight Purchase

This program is full and very likely to run. We advise that you do not purchase your plane ticket until you hear from Pre-College that this program is officially confirmed. Please consider purchasing travel insurance along with your flight.

Flight Delays

If you experience a delay while traveling, please call or text the BELL: Eastern Sierras On Site Director with your new arrival time. Please note: This number will be published here once available but will not be active until a few days before the program starts. This number will also be shared during the Pre-Departure Orientation Session.

For arrival, students will meet BELL: Eastern Sierras staff at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport Baggage Claim between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, July 29, 2023. 

BELL staff will only be at the airport to meet students during the scheduled arrival window. Staff will be wearing Brown University Pre-College T-shirts. Once everyone has arrived, the group will travel together to the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory in Mammoth Lakes, California.

If a program address is needed for customs purposes, please use the following address. Students cannot receive mail or packages while in the program.

Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory
1016 Mt. Morrison Road #9566
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Communication with Families 

At the beginning of the program, staff will send out an email to confirm that all students have arrived safely in Reno, Nevada (and then Mammoth Lakes) and have started to build community together at BELL. 

Please note that these emails will be sent out to the parent/guardian email address that we have on file. If you have an alternative email address that you’d like included in this list, please contact the BELL: On Site Director once the program begins or contact the Program Director ( before the program begins.

Safety and Supervision

You will have clear guidelines regarding where you can go alone or with a buddy. Staff are available for support and assistance 24 hours a day. Despite many students being experienced and competent travelers, the BELL staff expects all students to stay with the group at all times and provide notice if they need to separate from the group for any reason.

Communication During the Program

To contact us in an emergency, parents may call the BELL: Eastern Sierras On-Site Director at 401-556-7919. This number will also be shared during the Pre-Departure Orientation Session. At certain times during the program, students and/or staff may experience lapses in cell phone service. Staff will be checking the program phone often to return missed phone calls or text messages as soon as they are able.

Cell Phone Policy

We try to stay tuned in to each other and to our natural surroundings throughout the program, so we ask that the use of mobile devices (for phone calls, texting, social media etc.) be limited to free time in the evening. Letting go of the frequent connection to our phones helps us form a community and adjust to a new environment more quickly.


BELL: Eastern Sierras does not include any swimming, however students will be spending some time near bodies of water. For example, students will not be permitted to swim during their visit to Mono Lake. 

Fellow Students

You are encouraged to come to BELL with an open mind to meeting new people with diverse and varied perspectives. Each student accepted to BELL brings with them their own experiences and the cohort comes together to create a fascinating community.


For most of the program, you will be sleeping in dorm spaces where you will be housed with other BELL students. Your dorm host and location of several days of lessons when not on a field trip will be the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) in Mammoth Lakes, California. You will have access to shared private bathrooms with private showers. Only on the night prior to departure will you stay at a hotel in Reno, Nevada.

While you will not be staying overnight at field tip locations the group will be traveling in a few other key areas for day trips, including the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Yosemite National Park and Tuolumne Meadows.

Dietary and Medical Conditions

We will work with the staff to make accommodations for dietary restrictions and food allergies if we are notified in advance. You must communicate significant food allergies that require meal accommodations (e.g. gluten, shellfish, soy, eggs, milk) on the Medical Authorization and Health History Form and the BELL Dietary Support Form by April 12. Please also indicate any dietary preferences, including vegetarian and vegan diets, to allow us to plan accordingly. 


Students receive a detailed schedule upon arrival. Students must attend all days of the program in order to qualify for the individualized program evaluation from BELL staff. In addition to three meals per day, some free time, and transportation to and from site visits, this schedule provides an idea of what the program will entail. Note that this schedule is subject to change.

Day 1: Arrival Day

Welcome dinner, group transportation to SNARL; catch up on sleep

Day 2: 

Lessons; BELL Orientation; evening leadership workshop

Day 3

Field Trip Day: Mono Lakes Field Trip

Day 4

Geology and climate of California; Leadership workshop

Day 5 

Field Trip: Tuolumne Meadows Field Trip

Day 6 

Lessons: Hydrology, Stream Chemistry; Leadership workshop

Day 7 

Field Trip: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Day 8

Lessons: Tree ring exercise; Climate change in the West; Leadership workshop

Day 9  

Lessons: Action Plan preparation and presentations; travel to Reno

Day 10: Departure Day


Our days are busy, requiring the students’ energy and attention throughout the day. Although we require students to be in their rooms by curfew at 10 p.m., we respect the students’ ability to choose when to go to sleep.

This is an example of a typical day at BELL
Breakfast 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Morning Field Trip or Lesson 9 a.m. to Noon
Lunch/Free Time Noon to 2 p.m.
Afternoon Field Trip, Lab or Lesson 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Free Time and/or Supper Prep 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Supper 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Evening Labs and Discussions 7 p.m to 9 p.m.
Free Time 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Curfew 10 p.m.

Personal Health and Medical Emergencies

The BELL: Eastern Sierras program is a physically taxing program involving significant exertion in the outdoors. For your safety and comfort during the program, we expect participants to fully disclose any and all pre-existing medical conditions on required medical forms.

In a medical emergency, you will be transported to a nearby hospital. All of our activities take place within 2 hours of a hospital. For minor issues, we have a well-equipped first aid kit and staff trained in Wilderness First Aid.

Prescription Medications

You are responsible for safely storing and taking your own prescription medication. Students who are not accustomed to managing their own medication should work with their families to determine the best approach to do so during the program. All students who are taking prescription medications should bring prescribed medication in its original container and a copy of their prescription (which can be an electronic copy). Having a copy of the original prescription will enable us to replace medication if needed. Students with life-saving asthma and anaphylaxis medications (e.g., inhalers and epi-pens) must keep them on their person at all times.

BELL Action Plans

With support from instructors and peers at BELL, you will create an Action Plan to apply your new leadership knowledge to an issue in your home community. Creating an Action Plan is an opportunity for you to reflect critically on what you’ve learned and to delve deeper into issues that you find particularly compelling. There are many types of Action Plans, but what is most important is that you identify a project that: addresses a need, interests you and seems feasible given your personal circumstances. While you do not need to prepare anything prior to arriving at BELL, you may want to think about some issues related to your community and come to BELL with some ideas for Action Plan topics. At BELL, you will participate in Action Plan workshops that guide you through a step by step approach to developing your project.


Students are encouraged to upload photos to a shared Google folder once the program begins. Students will gain access to this folder closer to the program start date.

Class Attendance

Students are required to attend class. Absence or inactivity within your course may result in a dismissal from the program. Students dismissed for reasons of absence or inactivity will not be refunded.

You are responsible for abiding by all pre-college policies and guidelines while participating in the program. These include policies listed on the policy page as well as any policies shared with you by program staff and instructors. Please review our financial policies, including payment and refund information.

You will receive a Course Performance Report from your instructor and you in turn will be asked to complete a course evaluation upon completion of the course. If you successfully complete your program you will receive a Certificate of Completion. All completion materials including the Course Performance Report will be sent out in September. The certificate will be sent via US Mail to your listed address and the Course Performance Report will be sent electronically to the email address we have on file for you.

For departure, staff will accompany and help students check in to their departing flights at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport between 1 pm. and 4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Monday, August 7, 2023.

At the end of the program, staff will transport the students back to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Staff will help students check-in to their flights and find the security checkpoint. Once you are through security, you are responsible for communicating with your parents/guardians and managing your flight home.

If a program address is needed for customs purposes, please use the following address. Students cannot receive mail or packages while in the program.

Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory
1016 Mt. Morrison Road #9566
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Communication with Families 

At the end of the program, after students are through the security gates at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (or have met with family members at the airport), the program staff will send out another email to confirm that students have started their journeys home.

Please note that these emails will be sent out to the parent/guardian email address that we have on file. If you have an alternative email address that you’d like included in this list, please contact the BELL: On Site Director once the program begins or contact the Program Director ( before the program begins.