Life at Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Rhode Island
Sustainable Development and Leadership Development for High School Students
Life Outdoors at BELL
BELL students learn and live close to nature at Brown’s Haffenreffer Estate on Narragansett Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island. Sleeping quarters are large (16x 24’) tents set off the ground on wooden platforms. There are between 8-10 students per tent, sleeping on mattresses in bunk beds. 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 only indoor classroom, living room and shared recreational space. In addition, we have a well-equipped kitchen and abundant outdoor areas for all types of activities and sports.
In addition to coursework, students participate in community time to discuss current events, sharpen leadership skills, and simply have fun together in a beautiful place.
A Typical Day at BELL
Each day is different, but the basic schedule begins at 8:30 in the morning, ends at 10 in the evening, and includes field research, educational sessions on the environment and leadership, and time for team-building, recreation and reflection. There are many field trips, hikes on the property, debates, discussions and interactions with local activists and Brown faculty.
- 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 – 12:00: 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: Dinner. 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 tent
There are also several special days when the schedule is different. These include:
- A day on the Brown campus exploring the facilities and talking to faculty and students
- A day of kayaking instruction and exploring nearby salt marshes
- A day on a Low Ropes course
- Visit to a sustainable farm
- Several hours with a local fisherman on his boat in Narragansett Bay
*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.
Your fellow students
There are approximately 30 students in each BELL session. BELL students come from all over the U.S. and the world, and range from incoming 10th graders to graduated seniors.
A closing program is held at BELL on the final Friday of the course. We will have a barbecue lunch, and you will present your action plan to a small group of students and family members. It is an important opportunity for your family to visit the site, see where you’ve lived, hear what you’ve learned and discover how you want to put it into action back home.