Pre-College Programs
Leadership Institute Accepted Students

Emergency Contact Information

Families may contact us at any time during the program in the event of an emergency. Students should enter these numbers into their phones prior to departure.

Lauren Watka – BELL On-site Director
401-523-6218 (only active after June 17)

Brown University Department of Public Safety

Non-emergency assistance and information

Bell: Rhode Island - Information for Accepted Students

Congratulations on your acceptance to the BELL: Rhode Island 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 hae 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.

Table of Contents

Download required Accepted Students forms »

For your referenceStudent Code of Conduct

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.

Pre-Program Online Orientation

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

In addition, an informational web orientation with the On-site Director, Lauren Watka, is scheduled for Wednesday, June 10 at 4:00pm EST and Thursday, June 11 at 7:00pm EST.

Additional information on how to access the WebEx conference will be emailed to addresses we have on file.

Opening and Closing Day Information—Summer 2015

Session Dates

Session One:

Sunday, June 21–Friday, July 3 (BELL Sustainable Development – CEES0900 - 01 & 02 : 01 is female and 02 is male)

Session Two:

Sunday, July 5–Friday, July 17
(BELL Sustainable Development – Course code: CEES0900 - 03 & 04 : 03 is female and 04 is male)

Session Three:

Sunday, July 19–Friday, July 31 (BELL Sustainable Development – Course code: CEES0900 05 & 06 : 05 is female and 06 is male)

Opening Day Schedule


Registration on the Main Green. Parents and students register, meet staff and have a campus tour. Please check in no later than 11:30am.


Brief orientation for students and parents in Wilson Hall 102.


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:

Friday, July 3

Session Two:

Friday, July 17

Session Three:

Friday, July 31

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:


Enjoy the grounds, view pictures of the session, meet staff and students


Closing presentation


BBQ Lunch and Action Plan presentations


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 9:00am 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. There is a $150 per night extended housing fee.

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 Friday night. The residence halls must be vacated and room keys must be returned by 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. Please email to make arrangements. There is a $150 per night extended housing fee.

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 (FAQ)

Where is BELL: Rhode Island?  How do we get there?
BELL: Rhode Island takes place at the Haffenreffer Estate, a 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. The closing ceremony occurs on the Haffenreffer Estate.

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.–

Sleeping quarters are large (16 x 24’) tents set off the ground on wooden platforms. There are between 8–10 students per tent, separated by gender, sleeping on mattresses in bunk beds. Students should bring a sleeping bag or sheets for an extra-long twin bed, a blanket, and pillow. Please see the packing list for other linens to bring.

What should I bring?

Please see the packing list below for a full list of what, and what not, to bring. 

Tip #1: Remember that there is limited storage in the tents: bring only what is on the enclosed equipment list. We don’t have to look beautiful every day, so think in minimalist terms. Reminder that there are no laundry facilities on site but items can be hand rinsed/washed and hung dry if needed. We store most personal belongings under the bunks; soft-sided bags are best for squeezing underneath the beds.

Tip #2: New England weather can change at the drop of a hat. We have had sessions where temperatures were in the 90s and sunny, and we’ve had sessions where it rained nearly every day. In particular, nights can be cool near the water which is why we include a warm hat and at least one sweatshirt or long sleeve fleece. 

Tip #3: Rain gear is important. We will be spending time outdoors rain or shine. If you have nylon pants that can function as rain pants, bring them.

Required items:

Recommended items:

 Optional items:

What NOT to bring: 
Students should not bring laptops, iPads, e-readers, 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 laundry facilities at BELL.

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

Morning session

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

Afternoon session

5:00 – 6:00pm

Free time

6:00 – 7:00pm

Supper, students help with set-up and clean-up

7:00 – 7:45pm

Recreation Time

7:45 – 9:00pm

Evening program

9:00 – 10:00pm

Free time


In tents

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

What leadership skills will I learn?

What is the Action Plan?

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:

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.

Will we be able to swim?
Due to RI state regulations, you will not be able to swim on the Haffenreffer coast. However, 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. Students will have opportunities to meet with faculty and undergraduate students to learn about the curriculum and life at Brown. We will also spend one meal in a dining hall.

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. 

How can I contact my student during the session?

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

In emergencies: Parents may call Lauren Watka, the BELL Rhode Island On-site Director, at (401) 523-6218 with urgent requests or concerns.

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

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

Can I bring my cell phone/iPod/Kindle/etc?
For the first four days of BELL, we don’t make phone calls. This gives us time to form a community and get acquainted. On Thursday of the first week, students will have a few hours after 5:00pm EST with their phones. The following Tuesday afternoon when we are in Providence on campus, students 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.

Health & Wellness

Can you accommodate food preferences and allergies?

If you have a diagnosed allergy (e.g. peanuts, gluten, soy), please communicate those on your Disability, Medical, & Dietary Request Form. The Program Director will follow-up with you.

If you have other dietary restrictions or preferences (e.g. vegetarian, vegan, Kosher), please let us know well in advance of the program’s start date so that we can inform all relevant parties. We will be glad to make the necessary accommodations. Please fill out the Student/Attendee Allergy Form with any dietary concerns.

*Please note: students will have the opportunity to taste fresh, raw shellfish. This local delicacy is considered safe to enjoy unless you have a shellfish allergy or a suppressed immune system. Please notify us if either apply.

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 (eg. epi-pens and inhalers) 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.

All 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 Disability, Medical, & Dietary Request Form or contact our office directly to create a plan with the Program Director.

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 managers live adjacent to the property. Senior staff sleep in tents very close to the student tents and junior staff sleep in two of the four student tents. Students will have clear guidelines regarding where they can go alone or with a buddy but the group stays 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.

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 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.