Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is Putney Student Travel? What is their involvement in this program?
The Columbia Climate School collaborates with Putney Student Travel  to offer the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains and Columbia Climate Corps traveling programs. Putney programs are designed and operated by Putney Student Travel, a family-run organization that has provided transformative, safe, and fun educational travel programs for young people since 1951. These programs are designed for motivated high school students who are curious and passionate about the world around them. Whether in the U.S. or abroad, Putney programs combine experiential education, travel, and pre-college enrichment, taking you beyond the standard summer class model. 

Who is eligible to apply for this program?
Columbia Climate School Summer Programs are designed for and open to students in grades 9-12 across the United States, as well as motivated rising 9th grade students. For more information about how to apply, visit our Applications & Scholarships page here.

For general FAQs concerning travel logistics, health and safety, group dynamics, group leaders, and other questions, please consult Putney Student Travel’s FAQ page



What is included in the cost for the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains
The program cost for the 'Green Mountains' Program covers all day-to-day expenses including three meals each day, lodging, instruction, use of campus facilities, transportation during the program, entrance fees to museums and cultural sites, field excursions, guest lectures, social events, taxes, and tips. 
The program cost for the 'Green Mountains' Program in 2023 is $6,290. 

What is included in the cost for the Columbia Climate Corps?
The program cost for the 'Climate Corps' programs includes all accommodations, three meals each day, instruction, transportation during the program, entrance fees to museums and cultural sites, field excursions, guest lectures, social events, taxes, and tips.
Costs of the traveling program vary based on the destination:
Chile & Peru:$7,890
Alaska: $7,990
Iceland: $8,290

What is NOT covered in the cost of the Pre-College Programs? 
Pre-College program cost for both Pre-College Programs does not include the $200 Application Fee, international or domestic transportation to and from the program destination, baggage fees, visa and entry/exit fees, laundry, communication home, health care, gifts, snacks, or other personal expenses.


Health & Safety

What are your safety protocols?
Students’ health and safety is our top priority. Since 1951, Putney Student Travel has delivered active, educational, safe, meaningful, and fun programs. We maintain close relationships with the communities we visit and have strong networks of in-country contacts. Our program staff are well-traveled and trained in first aid and CPR. They are able to teach students how to be safe and responsible travelers. In the event of serious illness or injury, International SOS, a leading provider of international medical emergency services, is available to provide consultation and emergency medical evacuation services for destinations outside of the United States.

Is COVID-19 vaccination required?
Yes, we require all students, program staff, and Columbia faculty to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19. Find more information about Putney's approach to COVID-19 and safety protocols here.

How do I stay healthy during a Columbia Climate School Summer Program?
The best way to stay healthy during your program is to start your summer well-rested and to pay attention to your eating, sleep, and hygiene habits. Program staff provide guidelines and reminders about the importance of hygiene and how to stay healthy during the program.

What if I get sick?
It is important to be open and tell your program staff if you are feeling unwell. For any situation that we feel requires professional medical attention, program staff take students to a nearby clinic or hospital. Health decisions are made as a team based on input from the student, parents, leaders, and the Putney home office in Vermont. All students are required to carry their own medical insurance.

What if I have specific dietary or medical needs?
Our food providers are able to accommodate many medical and dietary needs. Please call us to discuss your specific situation before applying.



Are Putney programs accessible for students experiencing physical disabilities, hearing or vision impairments, neurological disorders, or other similar conditions?
Putney programs operate across a vast spectrum of physical and cultural landscapes, transportation conditions, and accommodation conditions. While there may be limitations in a given destination, we would be happy to explore accommodations we can provide in some instances. We invite all prospective applicants to consult us about their preferred first and second choice programs, and will communicate with families to determine if a program is a good fit for a student experiencing any of the above. We also are able to provide suggestions for alternate Putney programs that might be a good fit.



Am I allowed to bring a cell phone?
Yes, you can bring a cell phone on Columbia Climate School Summer Programs. Students have access to their phones throughout the program for academic purposes—during the academic day and afternoon activities. Pre-College students participating in the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains program can expect to do a 24-hour tech fast at one point during the program. Pre-College students participating in the Columbia Climate Corps program can expect to do a 7 day tech fast at the beginning of the trip. During the tech fast, the phones will be locked for social and communication usage, but photo and video capabilities will be accessible. Beyond this, phone usage guidelines are determined within each Pre-College community by students and staff. Students are encouraged to back up their smartphone data before the start of the program. 

Will there be group updates from the Columbia Climate School?
Our program staff and students keep a program blog where they post updates and photos of the group’s activities once or twice each week. We encourage you and your family to bookmark the blog and check back every few days for new posts.

How do we communicate during an emergency?
For all essential health and safety communications during the summer, program staff will be in touch with Putney headquarters staff who will then be in direct communication with parents at home. Our home office in Vermont can be reached 24 hours a day during the summer months. For absolutely essential communication, families can call our emergency line and we can reach leaders in the field.


Rules & Responsibilities

What are the rules on Columbia Climate School Summer Programs?
We expect our students to maintain high standards of personal behavior. We impose few rules, all grounded in group safety and supporting an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust, and consideration, which are designed to ensure that students can live in a safe, friendly, and constructive environment. Since students are encouraged, within the context of our programs, to take leadership roles and to make some of their own discoveries, students whose parents require them to be under constant surveillance or who are likely to act irresponsibly, use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, or behave in a disruptive manner, should not apply. Any student whose attitude or behavior is in violation of our rules or is otherwise prejudicial to the maintenance of standards or to the successful operation of our program will be dismissed from the program at our sole discretion and travel home at their parents’ expense.

For more details, please review Putney Student Travel’s Program Standards



Campus Life 

Where does the Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains program take place? 
The Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains program takes place in Castleton, Vermont at Vermont State University, a picturesque 165-acre campus. Nestled between Vermont’s Green Mountains and the Lakes Region, surrounded by small Vermont towns, the campus itself offers extensive green space and a serene setting for meaningful engagement with peers and Columbia Climate School experts. 

What is the campus like?
Castleton’s rural nature and collegiate environment make this campus the ideal place to host a climate-focused summer experience. In addition to ample learning spaces, from classrooms to labs and studios, lecture halls and theaters, there are a wide range of campus facilities available for our exclusive use including a beautiful outdoor covered pavilion, sports fields, tennis courts, fantastic hiking and biking trails, and more. The location allows for ample access to Vermont’s small communities and larger towns or cities, providing opportunity for learning experiences beyond the classroom with potential site visits or meetings with local experts and state leaders, and extracurricular excursions to nearby lakes, galleries or museums, and more.   

What will the accommodations be like?
We stay in dormitories at the heart of the Vermont State University campus. Rooms are spacious singles and doubles, with shared bathroom facilities on the floor. Dormitories are equipped with ample social common areas, as well as laundry facilities and a small kitchenette. Staff reside on the dormitory floors with students.

What will the meals be like?
Each day we take our meals in the campus dining hall, with the occasional lunch in town or picnic on a field trip. The campus kitchen and our program staff are able to accommodate many medical and dietary needs. Please call us to discuss your specific situation.

How physically active will I be?
Days are filled with movement—walking around campus with your fellow students and staff, participating in a hands-on activity, or enjoying an afternoon swim or hike.

Will activities and lessons take place off campus?
Program content will be delivered in a variety of formats and modalities throughout the program to maximize every student’s learning potential. A variety of off-campus experiences will be offered throughout the program to help students solidify their classroom-based learning experiences with real world examples of climate impacts and climate action. In addition, students will experience all that Vermont has to offer beyond the scope of climate by exploring the local area, networking and interacting with community members, and immersing themselves in the natural beauty of the Green Mountains.



What vaccinations are recommended for travel to my destination?
We recommend that you consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your healthcare provider to make the right decision for your family. Once a student has been accepted on a Columbia Climate Corps program, we will provide information on general wellness for travelers, country-specific CDC recommendations, and a list of cities and regions visited on your program.

Travel is a carbon-intensive activity. Do Columbia Climate Corps programs do anything to offset emissions?
Putney Student Travel invests in a carbon offset program to cover greenhouse gas emissions from all Columbia Climate Corps student and program staff flights. We work directly with Vermont-based NativeEnergy to identify and invest in community-scale and sustainable projects that would not otherwise be realized.



More information about the admissions process can be found on Putney’s FAQ page

Call Putney Student Travel at 802-387-5000 or email us at [email protected]