In every classroom at EXPLO hangs a Community Expectations Poster, a reminder to students of the expectations we have for them while they are a member of the EXPLO community. On the first day of classes for any new course or workshop, students sit down with their instructor and thoughtfully discuss the “four pillars,” dissecting how each one is an integral part of the EXPLO experience: to be kind, be safe, be true, and be curious.
Recently, we asked our EXPLO Ambassadors — a group of alums whose mission is to inspire their peers to make the most out of an EXPLO summer experience — what these pillars (to be kind, be safe, be true, and be curious) mean to them, both at EXPLO and during the school year.
"At EXPLO, I think that a lot of the kindness on campus derives from open-mindedness since it is such a diverse program. Kindness is being willing to reach out to others, and allowing yourself to enjoy and try every new experience that EXPLO provides. Kindness is also not being discouraged when risks you take don't lead to awesome adventures."
— Gabi from New York
"Last year, I felt so much kindness at EXPLO.I had been to probably 3 camps that summer before EXPLO, and EXPLO was the first one I felt welcome the second I got to my dorm and made my best friends within hours of getting there."
— Elijah from Oklahoma
"Showing kindness is most important and is especially helpful in the beginning of EXPLO. Homesickness can happen and last year, as someone who has never had homesickness, I learned how to empathize with students better, and learned how to put myself in someone else’s shoes to help them feel reassured how fun it’s going to be."
— Belen from Spain
"As an Ambassador, if I see someone that is sitting alone or seems quiet I would start a conversation with them so they feel welcomed and included. I believe that no kid should be left out from a group."
— Seth from New York
"...Emotional safety at EXPLO is paramount. This should be an experience that everyone enjoys. For example, everyone has the right to feel accepted and included at EXPLO."
—Liam from Maryland
"To be safe means using bug spray and sunblock." (We couldn't agree more.)
—Sylvia from New York
“The diversity makes me feel at home, knowing that I am not alone and there are not just staff or teachers but also dorm-mates, students, and friends who have gone through similar experiences. That kind of support base means so much to those of us who have feared being ostracized or singled out for our dissimilarity.”
— Inez from Florida
“At EXPLO, I feel respected by all my peers and I don't feel threatened by anyone. Another big part of safety is being able to have fun and not be embarrassed to be yourself.”
— Marley from California
“The staff is definitely what makes me feel safe at EXPLO. They facilitate a safe environment for us, but still let us students have our free time and have control over our own activities. That’s what I love most about EXPLO — faculty trust me to be safe in regards to choosing my own activities and how I manage my time (besides check-ins of course).”
—Annelise from New York
“Having honesty and integrity means to me that you own up to your mistakes. After all, mistakes are one of your best learning tools. It means you be who you really are and who you're meant to be and who you want to be. It means doing the right thing with no expectations of an award.”
— Julia from Massachusetts
“For me, honesty means that you can be sincere without fearing any judgment. An EXPLO classroom feels different than a regular classroom because of this.”
— Constanza from Italy
“I think students unapologetically being true to who they are at EXPLO has really inspired me throughout the rest of the year. At EXPLO, nobody judges or leaves anyone out. This loosened me up throughout the school year because I had an open mind and stayed true to my personality.”
— Eliza from Connecticut
To many Ambassadors, being curious at EXPLO means learning how to making new discoveries and ever-presently asking the question "why" both in and outside of the classroom.
"When you are eating the same foods, with the same people, going over the same things, and not ever wondering about anything else- things become bland. If you’re curious, you find yourself going on new adventures, seeing new things, and learning things you would never have otherwise."
— Tori from Florida
”If you are curious, then you will be the ones looking for the answers in life. If a prehistoric hunter hadn't wondered if there was an easier way to eat than running around hunting for food with his bare hands, would there even be civilization? Don’t forget, the same thing goes for the invention of electricity and the lightbulb!”
— Nicholas from Massachusetts
“In order to really experience EXPLO, it is essential to get outside your box. EXPLO is all about quirky experiences and the people you’re making memories with. Go meet them!”
— Hayden from Kansas
EXPLO's Community Expectations Poster helps frame how students’ can be an active participant in and outside of the classroom — where they are reminded to ask themselves if they are choosing to lead with kindness, safety, integrity, and curiosity each day at EXPLO.