Pre-College Programs
Leadership Institute Accepted Students

Bell: Rhode Island - Information for Accepted Students

Congratulations on your acceptance to the BELL program!

We are delighted that you are going to be part of the BELL community! We hope that this information will be helpful as you and your family make travel plans and prepare for your experience with us. If you have any questions, please contact and write "BELL" in the subject line. You can also reach us by phone at 401-863-7900.  We look forward to meeting you.

Pre-Program Online Orientation

Most of your questions about life at BELL are answered in the information below. 

In addition, a web orientation with the On-site Director, Lauren Watka, is scheduled for Tuesday, June 10 at 4pm EST and Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 6pm EST.

Additional information on how to access has been emailed to addresses we have on file.

Opening and Closing Day Information - Summer 2014

Session Dates

Session One: Sunday, June 22 - Thursday, July 3
(BELL Sustainable Development – CEES0900 - 01 & 02 : 01 is female and 02 is male)
Session Two: Sunday, July 6 - Friday, July 18
(BELL Sustainable Development – Course code: CEES0900 - 03 & 04 : 03 is female and 04 is male)
Session Three: Sunday, July 20 - Friday, August 1
(BELL Sustainable Development – Course code: CEES0900 05 & 06 : 05 is female and 06 is male)

Opening Day Schedule

9:00-11:30am Registration on the Main Green. Parents and students register, meet staff and have a campus tour. Please check in no later than 11:30.
11:30am Brief orientation for students and parents in Salomon Hall Room 001 (Lower Level Auditorium).
12:00pm Bus leaves for Haffenreffer site from Main Green

Parents will not see the actual site on opening day. We hope that all families can join us for our closing program at Haffenreffer. The site is 30 minutes southeast of the campus.

Closing Days

Session One: Thursday, July 3
Session Two: Friday, July 18
Session Three: Friday, August 1

Closing Day Schedule

Parents, we strongly encourage you to come to our closing day program. This will be an opportunity for you to see our site, hear Action Plan presentations from the students and meet with the staff. You are welcome to arrive between 11:00 - 11:45am on Closing Day.

Note: Students will need to be picked up at Haffenreffer in Bristol, RI or pay for a cab to campus, airport or train station. There will be no transportation provided to the main Brown University Campus. This course closes at the Haffenreffer Estate.

The schedule for closing day:

11:00 am Enjoy the grounds, view pictures of the session, meet staff and students
11:45 am Closing presentation
12:00 pm BBQ Lunch and Action Plan presentations
1:30 pm Departures from Haffenreffer

Closing Day Travel Information

The BELL: Rhode Island program is on the Haffenreffer Estate located at 300 Tower Street, off Route 136 in Bristol, Rhode Island, about 30 miles from the airport. From Providence: Route 195 East to MA Exit 2 (Route 136 toward Newport, RI). Go south on Route 136 for 7.5 miles. Turn left at the Haffenreffer sign onto Tower Street. The Estate is 1.4 miles from Route 136. Park near the main building and look for signs to BELL. Feel free to arrive as early as 11:00.

Early Arrival/Late Departure

Students should arrive at Brown between 9am and 11:30am of our opening day. Students should make every effort to plan their travel to Brown based on a Sunday arrival; however, procedures are in place to accommodate Saturday arrival for those stu­dents who are arriving from long distances (greater than 350 miles from campus) and need to accommodate flight schedules. Students who need housing for the Saturday night before their session begins should email to receive permission and make arrangements to stay at Brown overnight. 

Students should plan to leave the Haffenreffer Estate around 1:30pm on the Friday that the session ends. If flight schedules and long distance travel plans necessitate a Saturday departure, you must request permission to stay at Brown until Saturday. The resi­dence halls must be vacated and room keys must be returned by 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. Please email to make arrangements.

How can I get to Brown University?

The School of Professional Studies maintains a detailed website with travel directions, transportation options and ac­commodations.

BELL staff members will coordinate shared taxis for students to the airport on closing day if their parents are not able to come to the closing ceremony. Students should bring sufficient money for taxi fare (approximately $60 to the airport).

Program Information

How many students are there?  What are they like?

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.

What is our schedule?

8:30 – 9:00am Breakfast, students help with set-up and clean-up
9:00 – 9:30am Community tasks
9:30 – 11:30am Class time
11:30 – 12:00pm Free time
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch, students help with set-up and clean-up
1:00 – 2:00pm Solo time
2:00 – 5:00pm Class time
5:00 – 6:00pm Free time
6:00 – 7:00pm Supper, students help with set-up and clean-up
7:00 – 8:00pm Recreation Time
8:00 – 9:00pm Evening program
9:00 – 10:00pm Free time
10:00pm In tents

There will also be several special days when the schedule will be different. These will include:

What leadership skills will I learn?

Your Action Plan

We believe that it is not enough to understand complex social issues. Instead, effective leaders ask themselves, "What will we do with what we know? How will we serve others? How might we work for long-term social change?" 

At the Leadership Institute, 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.

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:

During the Program: Logistical Information

Where is BELL: Rhode Island?  How do we get there?

BELL: Rhode Island takes place at the Haffenreffer reserve, which is an historically and ecologically important property owned by Brown University. It is located in Bristol, RI, a 30-minute drive from Brown. On opening day, your parents will drop you off at Brown and you'll travel to Bristol by school bus.

Where do we sleep?

Students sleep in large (16x 24') waterproof canvas tents set off the ground on wooden platforms. There are between 8-10 students per tent, sleeping in bunk beds.  Students bring sleeping bags or their own linens.

What are the Haffenreffer facilities like?

Haffenreffer is certainly rustic, but there are hot indoor showers and toilets located in the multi-purpose building, just a short walk from the tents. The building also houses our classroom, living room and recreational space. In addition, we have a well equipped kitchen and outdoor areas for all types of sports.

What should I bring?

Our packing listinstructing you on what to bring and what to leave at home, will be available soon. Please remember that there is limited storage in the tents: bring only what is on the enclosed equipment list. Extra items will only create additional stress in the tents! We store most personal belongings under the bunks; soft-sided bags are best for squeezing underneath the beds.

Will I be able to do laundry?

There are no laundry facilities at BELL.

Will we be able to swim?

Due to RI state regulations, you will not be able to swim at the site or during our program. Students will be able to walk or wade in the water during coastline ecology lessons and when kayaking. You MUST bring surf shoes, old tennis shoes or Tevas to wear for these activities. Flip-flops are not acceptable as they will not stay on your feet. We also recommend that you bring a swim suit for kayaking. All students and staff will also wear life jackets when we are kayaking.

What is a “Challenge Course"?

A Challenge Course or low ropes course is an outdoor experience that challenges groups to solve problems and work effectively together.  It provides an opportunity for students to gain insight into their own leadership styles and to observe the ways in which groups work best.  Brown's Challenge Course is located right on the Haffenreffer Estate. This is one of the activities where students will be required to wear long pants (NOT capris) and closed-toe shoes.

Will we spend time on campus?

We will spend one full day on campus. Our goal is to expose students to the broad array of resources—libraries, labs, residence halls, dining halls, recreational facilities and classrooms. Students will have opportunities to meet with faculty and undergraduate students to learn about the curriculum and life at Brown.

How much money should I bring?

All of your meals and entertainment are covered in your program fee, so you won't need money while you're at BELL. However, students usually spend between $10 - $50 on snacks and souvenirs when we visit Brown. Bring enough money for your transportation back from the program, and whatever you think you'll need during your free time on campus. 

Contacting us during the session

During the day: Parents may contact the School of Professional Studies and staff will relay a message to us. Contact the Office at (401) 863-7900 and say you need to relay a message to a BELL student.

At night: If you need to get an emergency message to your student or the staff, you may contact Brown Department of Public Safety at (401) 863-3322 and they will relay your message to us.

Policy on cell phones, portable music players and email

For the first four days of BELL, we don't call out and we ask families not to call in unless it is an emergency. This gives us time to form a community. We want to focus on getting to know each other. On Thursday of the first week, students will have an op­portunity in the evening to utilize their cell phones. The following Tuesday afternoon, when they are on campus, they will again have access to their phones. Students do not have access to email except for the last 10 minutes of research time in a campus computer lab on that Tuesday.

When students arrive at BELL, we will also collect and secure all electronic devices, including personal music players . As a general rule, we try to stay tuned in to each other and to our natural surroundings. However, there is certainly music at BELL; the staff occasionally introduces lessons with music and we encourage students to bring instruments they play.


You may send mail to your student at:
(Student's Name)
Haffenreffer Estate
300 Tower Street
Bristol, RI 02809

Note: It is VERY IMPORTANT to address to the attention of BELL Program

Release and Waiver Forms

Several release and waiver forms are required by the University and by the organizations that will be providing us with programmatic services. All of our partner organizations have excellent reputations for high quality and safe educational work with students. Find forms online.

Please note: BELL RI requires three additional forms listed under “Forms for Leadership Courses”

Medical Concerns—What if I need medical attention?

Members of our staff have basic first aid training. The local EMS and fire station is located within two miles of the site. The staff will have cell phones for emergency communication purposes. If you have a more routine medical question, we will have access to the University Health Services on campus. If you have special medical concerns or dietary needs, please communicate those on your Medical Authorization Form.

Is the site secure?

The site for the Brown Environmental Leadership Lab is located on 372 acres of land in Bristol, Rhode Island. There is a gate to the property which is closed every night. The property manager lives on site, close to the gate. Staff sleep in tents very close to the student tents. Students will have clear guidelines regarding where they can go, and they will be expected to stay together most of the time. The property is not impenetrable, but we have taken all precautions to protect our privacy and security. We encourage you to leave valuables at home (see equipment list). We will have a secure place for any items that you do not want to leave in the tent.

Tick Awareness

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 how to reduce risk, provision of tick identification charts on site, and designated time for tick checks three times a 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 two pairs of treated socks to each student when they arrive at the Haffenreffer Estate. As an additional preventative measure, students must bring a pair of closed-toe shoes that the staff will spray with permethrin on the first day. Staff will direct students when activities require these closed-toe shoes.

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 student participate without any problems, but we want you to know about deer ticks and tick-bite prevention should you be unfamiliar with this information.