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 web pages carefully with your parents/guardians and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. You and your parents/guardians 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


Please check your email and your student portal frequently as these are the places where you will be notified when required forms are available for you to complete.

Important Dates

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

March 20: 

  • All required forms available in your student portal
  • Billing notifications will be sent out 
  • E-Bill payment portal will open

March 29: All medical forms and waivers due

April 10: Full payment and Travel Itinerary Form due

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

Tuesday, April 9 at 8 p.m. EST: Mandatory Pre-Departure Orientation Session

There will be a mandatory online program orientation for you and your parents/guardians on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at 8 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 will be made available through your student portal and 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 physical and immunization records, 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 required BELL Dietary Support Form and Medical Authorization and Health History Form by the March 29 deadline. On these forms, you will be asked to indicate all 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 before the March 29 deadline. Please email if you have any questions or concerns.

Communicating with Classmates

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

BELL Course Orientation and Pre-Work

Two weeks prior to your course start date, log onto Canvas to complete your course orientation and pre-work prior to arriving on site.


  • Go to
  • Login using your Brown username and password
  • Navigate to your BELL: Rhode Island course page to begin

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 site visits, such as Tuolumne Meadows (95389), prior to packing. Some evenings during the program may dip into temperatures as low as 40°F (5°C) and as high as 80°F (27°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, a T-shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a fleece jacket and hiking boots with ankle support. On other days, you may be wearing quick-dry shorts and a T-shirt.
  • There is no access to laundry facilities during BELL: Eastern Sierras. Students should pack enough clothing to last the entire program.
  • If you do not own one or more of the items listed below, you may want to consider renting them from a local outdoor store, such as REI.
  • If you are unable to acquire any of the supplies listed below, we want to help! Please reach out to to get connected with a program director. 

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 typical college furniture: one twin bed per person and some storage areas. You are responsible for supplying your own bedding, towels and toiletries. 

On the first and last nights of the program, you will stay at a residence hall at the University of Nevada, Reno.

What to Bring

Required Items
  • 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 pillowcase and stuff it with clothes)
  • 1 bath towel
  • 1 washcloth
  • Small day/backpack that can be used on hikes and as a carry-on for airplane
  • Sturdy, closed toe shoes with ankle support that can be worn for hiking  (shoes may get muddy/dirty)
  • Sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • 3-6 pairs of pants and/or leggings (quick-dry material preferred)
  • 3-5 pairs of shorts
  • Polar fleece and/or warm layers 
  • 2-3 long sleeve shirts for layering (quick-dry material preferred)
  • T-shirts
  • Warm hat (e.g., a beanie)
  • Rain jacket
  • Long, lightweight hiking pants
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Any prescribed medications and a copy of original prescription
  • Prescription glasses or contacts (if needed) and back up pair of glasses if lost or broken
  • Preferred over the counter medications
  • Bandaids
  • Government-issued photo ID (for airplane)
  • Flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries
  • Toothbrush and toiletries, period hygiene products 
  • 2 reusable water bottles and/or a hydration pack (totaling at least 60 oz.) 
  • Handkerchief, bandana or reusable napkin
  • Phone charger
  • Flip flops or other shower shoes
  • Eye mask and ear plugs to sleep more comfortably
  • Reusable snack bags (at least 2)
Optional Items
  • Blank journal and writing implements
  • Extra blanket 
  • Wristwatch (preferably waterproof)
  • Light gloves
  • Antihistamines (such as calamine lotion, Zyrtec, Claritin, Benadryl to treat mosquito bites)
  • Insect repellant
  • 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
  • Umbrella for sun protection

What Not to Bring

You may NOT bring pets, weapons of any sort, including pocket or Swiss army knives, appliances, cooking devices, candles, incense, explosives, fireworks or hazardous materials. You should not bring computers, tablets or other valuable electronics. Please note that you are expected to prioritize the experience for the benefit of yourself and your peers. You will have one or two hours of free time dispersed throughout each day at BELL, but the free time is not always predictable and does not occur at the same time each day. Additional coursework, including online courses for Brown or other programs, is not feasible.

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. You 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 confirmed to run in summer 2024. Please consider purchasing travel insurance along with your flight.

Pickup/Drop-Off Airport

Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO)

Strict Arrival and Departure Times

As you make travel arrangements please note the following two important requirements;

  1. Program staff are only able to meet students at the airport during the arrival and departure windows noted below. Booking travel during stated windows will ensure that you are able to participate fully in the program, including arrival day orientation activities as well as closing activities.
  2. Program staff cannot serve as the designated adult for unaccompanied minors.This program has strict arrival and departure windows for airport pick-up and drop-off. Please keep in mind that our staffing model does not accommodate student travel outside of our arrival and departure windows. If you are on a flight outside of the provided time windows, you will need to arrange for your own transportation to meet up with the group upon arrival/or depart for your flight at the conclusion of the program. Students who arrange travel within the provided time windows will be included in all group transportation to and from the program site.

Flight Delays

If you experience a delay while traveling, call or text the BELL: Eastern Sierras On-Site Director with your new arrival time. Please note: This number will be shared during the required pre-departure orientation session and published here once available but will not be active until a few days before the program starts.

You 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 Thursday, July 25, 2024. 

BELL staff will only be at the airport (across from Baggage Claim #5) to meet you during the scheduled arrival window. Staff will be wearing red “Brown University Pre-College” T-shirts. Once everyone has arrived, the group will travel together to the University of Nevada, Reno.

If a program address is needed for customs purposes, please use the following address. You 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 Parents/Guardians

To contact us in an emergency, parents/guardians may call the BELL: Eastern Sierras On-Site Director. 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. For safety, BELL staff will have access to a satellite phone that they can use for outgoing calls in areas without regular cell phone service.

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

At the end of the program, after students have passed through the security gates at the Reno-Tahoe airport (or have met with their parents/guardians 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 would like included in this list, please contact the On-Site Director to share an additional email address.

Safety and Supervision

You will have clear guidelines regarding where you can go alone or with a peer. 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 you need to separate from the group for any reason.

Cell Phone Policy

Each year, the BELL staff revisits the cell phone policy to ensure that it aligns with best practices in both safety and community engagement. The main goal of the BELL cell phone policy is to allow you to stay tuned into each other, the program and your natural surroundings. You may experience a lot of benefits from letting go of the frequent connection to technology, as it often helps BELL students adjust to a new environment more quickly and form a stronger community. While some spaces or parts of the day at BELL will be entirely cell phone free, you will still have opportunities to keep in touch with friends and family at home who you lean on for support. You will learn about the BELL cell phone policy during on-site program orientation.

Swimming during BELL

BELL: Eastern Sierras does not allow any swimming, though you will be spending some time near bodies of water. You should feel comfortable on a boat and near bodies of water. For example, you will not be permitted to swim during their visit to Mono Lake.

Community Living

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

At BELL, each student also contributes to day to day community life by assisting with tasks like keeping the living and learning spaces clean and taking on leadership roles among the group. BELL Staff will expect you to step up as leaders, take good care of your physical spaces, take good care of yourself and respect others. 


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


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 site visit will be the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) in Mammoth Lakes, California. You will have access to shared private bathrooms with private showers. Space is very limited and can feel cramped in the dorm rooms at SNARL, so you are encouraged to pack light.

On arrival day, you will stay at a residence hall at the University of Nevada, Reno. You will also stay there on the last night of the program to be closer to the airport for departure day. 

While you will not be staying overnight at site visit locations the group will be traveling in a few other key areas for day trips, including the Yosemite National Park and Tuolumne Meadows.

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 you 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 parents/guardians to determine the best approach to do so during the program. All students who are taking prescription medications should bring their 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. If your medication requires refrigeration, we will provide access to a refrigerator for the duration of the program.


You should inform program staff as soon as you are not feeling well, and will be asked to self-administer a COVID test and/or take your temperature, among other actions. If you are ill, you will need to be separated from others in the program to lower the possibility of any illness spreading and it is possible you may be asked to make plans to depart the program. University information specific to COVID-19 can be found here. Please note that pre-college policies and protocols may not align exactly with the University’s, and there may be additional or different protocols implemented by a partner lodging site, field trip or local airport and are dependent on public health guidelines at the time of the program.

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. See examples of Action Plans from previous years here.


You receive a detailed schedule upon arrival. You must attend all days of the program in order to qualify for the Course Performance Report. 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. Please note: this schedule is subject to change.

Day 1: Arrival Day

Welcome activities at a Museum of Natural History, group transportation to University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), group dinner, catch up on sleep

Day 2: 

Group transportation to SNARL; BELL Orientation

Day 3

BELL Orientation continued; syllabus review, intro to geology lesson, evening group activity

Day 4

Site Visit Day: Mono Lakes and Panum Crater

Day 5 

Lessons: Geology of California, sedimentology exercise, Action Plan introduction

Day 6 

Site Visit Day: Tuolumne Meadows at Yosemite National Park

Day 7 

Lessons: Stream chemistry, hydrology, hydroclimate, water resources; evening site visit to Convict Lake

Day 8

Site Visit Day: Devil’s Postpile National Monument and scenic gondola ride up Mammoth Mountain

Day 9  

Lessons: Tree ring exercise, climate change in the west, Action Plan work

Day 10:

Action Plan final preparation and presentations, depart SNARL for UNR

Day 11: Departure Day


Our days are busy, requiring a lot of your energy and attention throughout the day. You are required to check in with residential staff every evening at 10 p.m. PST and remain on your floor until 6 a.m. PST the following morning. The residential staff will place a call to the parents/guardians of any student who is late for curfew. Local authorities will be informed after an appropriate interval of time if a student has not checked in, and a protocol will be initiated to ensure the safety of the student.

Adhering to the curfew policy is your responsibility. While residential staff will take reasonable measures to ensure that you adhere to the curfew, once you have been verified as being within the residence halls at the designated time, you will be in violation of policies should you choose to leave your residence hall area. If we become aware of a curfew violation, you will be referred to our student conduct process. Repeated and/or serious violations of the curfew could result in dismissal from the program.

For more details, please read the Residential Policies on our website.

This is an example of a typical day at BELL
Breakfast 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Clean Up and Community Tasks 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Morning Site Visit or Lesson 9 a.m. to Noon (12 p.m.)
Lunch and Clean Up Noon (12 p.m.) to 1 p.m.
Solo Time 1 p.m to 2 p.m.
Afternoon Site Visit or Lesson 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Free Time and/or Supper Prep 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Evening Activities 7 p.m to 9 p.m.
Free Time 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Curfew 10 p.m.

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.

In addition to Brown University’s pre-college policies, you will also be required to follow guidelines and policies of all of the BELL partner sites, including lodging facilities, museums, transportation companies and other venues hosting your BELL cohort.

For departure, staff will accompany and help you check in to your departing flights at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, August 4, 2024. 

Staff will help you find the security checkpoint. Once you are through security, you are responsible for communicating with your parents/guardians and managing your flight home.

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 digital CeCertificate of Completion. All completion materials including the Course Performance Report will be sent out in September. The certificate will be sent via a secured link to the email address you have on file and the Course Performance Report will be made available in your Student Portal.