EXPLO 2020 | We are the People of the Possible


The students who make the conscious decision to attend EXPLO are the type of people who will invent the next Facebook, put humans on Mars,

or become the leader of their country. Malik T. | EXPLO Alum

People who expect more are the people who do more. They’re the people who change their schools, their neighborhoods, their countries — they change the world. They don’t think small. They don’t stop before they even get started. They stick their necks out. They know more is possible. So, how do you begin expecting more? More from yourself… More from those around you… More from the world? You find your people. You find yourself. And you find it all at EXPLO . LEARNING TO EXPECT MORE


In most schools, students spend the bulk of their time being told what to do, how to learn, and what standards and measurements mean success. Adventure and exploration live on the fringes, if they are there at all. The problem is that if you really want to thrive in life — to work at things you are passionate about, to be well-equipped to do so, to live a life of meaning and purpose — school as we know it today isn’t very good at preparing you for the future.

It should be, but it isn’t.


At EXPLO, the road to expecting more is built on three interconnected pillars:

Explore Discover Pursue

EXPLORE EXPLO is about taking charge of your own learning and charting your own course. At the heart of exploration is exposure to a diverse world of people, ideas, places, and opportunities. So we’ve built a program full of tremendous choices and opportunities. At EXPLO we know that the more you see, the more you want to see. That’s curiosity in action — and the fuel for a life of exploration and learning.

DISCOVER Exploring leads to discovery.

Discovery is something we all seem to understand when we’re very young — small humans are wired to open every door, tug every rope, jump in every puddle, serenade every dog, and goodness, what we learn along the way. But discovery gets tossed aside as we get older. We begin to focus on outcomes — a certain test score, GPA, or college acceptance. The problem is that those goals are short- lived, and in many ways small. What if the goals were different? What if the goals were about discovering your interests, talents and strengths — what lights you up? Now that would be something you could lean on for the rest of your life.

PURSUE Discovery is not the destination. Rather, it is a stepping stone to continue exploring in pursuit of more — more adventure, more opportunities, more learning. But pursuing your passion and potential isn’t easy. Very few of us nail it on the first try — or the tenth. You are going to fail. Since school doesn’t reward failure, how are you supposed to learn that stumbling blocks aren’t roadblocks? They’re simply opportunities to reset the game. At EXPLO we don’t do grades because too often grades make people risk-averse. At EXPLO it’s about stepping out with a bunch of strangers who are also taking risks. We stumble together, laugh together and help pick each other up. This is how you build resilience, resourcefulness, and creative confidence. It’s also how you build life-long friendships that will bolster you through life’s ups and downs.

Explore more at pursue.explo.org

EXPLORE To traverse the unfamiliar in search of new discoveries and deeper understanding via inquiry, debate, discussion, and hands-on projects

The Earth may be round, but there are countless corners to explore.

There are scores of stones and stories to turn over; oceans and ideas to plumb the depths of. At EXPLO, students take charge of their learning and chart their own course. Their “what ifs?” become “and thens!” Everything they imagine is met with “Yes, and…” instead of “not right now.” Why? Because there is adventure and opportunity around every corner if you’re willing to seek it. And we believe that life is a whole lot more interesting and exciting when you do.

My son came home full of ideas and happy about what he has learned and seen. He confessed to me that he didn’t know that life has so much more to offer than the town we live in — other cultures and people from all backgrounds who are kind, respectful, and caring for one another. I wish all students would have a chance to experience this. We surelywould have a better and smarter world. Pascale N. | EXPLO Parent

Did You Know? EXPLO welcomes thousands of students from 50 states + 93 countries to three campuses each summer

If confidence is the key to living a life of daring and courage, community is the key to building confidence. It’s not a coincidence that researchers say it takes 21 days to establish a habit — and three weeks of EXPLO establishes habits of mind that last a lifetime. When You’re a Kid, Three Weeks Can Be EVERYTHING

times, regaling them with stories about his experiences and, more importantly, new friends. Running late from a science lab, Sam wrote that by the time he got to the dining hall there were no seats available — until another student stood up and insisted that Sam take his. “I don’t think Sam has encountered this kind of kindness from a stranger his age before,” Vicki said. “Our son sounds so strong. This has always been our wish for Sam. What you’ve done for our son is worth everything. I think you just create a program where kids can be themselves and know that they’re great, just as they are.”

Still, leaving your child in the care of others is daunting for many parents. But after three disappointing summer experiences at other camps, Vicki and Daniel Klein couldn’t help but hold their breath leaving their son, Sam, at EXPLO for two sessions. “An hour before he was set to leave for EXPLO he admitted he didn’t want to go,” Vicki said. “My husband and I kept our fingers crossed that your program would be a better fit.” Their fears were allayed almost immediately. In a matter of days, Sam emailed his parents multiple

EXPLO Parents on the Value of the Third Week thirdweek.explo.org

Be the Best Version of Yourself — Here and Everywhere

How do you thrive? What happens when you’re happy? When you have positive relationships? What happens when you do have meaning, when you are achieving things and becoming the best version of yourself? Dan Lerner | EXPLO Advisor Author/Keynote Speaker/NYU Instructor, “The Science of Happiness” These are questions we reflect on every day at EXPLO. Why? Because life lived at zero isn’t really living — it’s simply existing. At EXPLO, we want students to thrive. To feel excited about every next big step because of the sheer volume of possibility available to them. But in order to truly thrive, you have to be willing to reveal yourself to others. You have to engage with the community around you, try new things, take some risks, be willing to fail — all in an effort to unearth your strengths and interests. And when everyone else around you is willing to do those same things — that’s when you feel like you can truly be yourself.

I gained new confidence at EXPLO and found that people like me so much better when I am just myself. I like myself better, too. I carried this newfound self-assurance to school in seventh grade and made all new friends. Friends who helped me continue to be me and grow in the new middle school environment. I could not be happier. Now, moving on to high school and progressing into life, I know that if I keep these relationships and am myself, I will be just fine. If everyone could learn how to fly their own flag and find people who like them for who they are, they would be a lot happier and more successful. This I believe. Izzie H. | EXPLO Student (excerpted from her 8th grade commencement speech)

pursue.explo.org Build your confidence at EXPLO

A Life of Daring and Courage Starts at EXPLO

level of comfort and self-acceptance, and consequently participate not as the public school kid, but like any other student. I knew I would not be happy at home if I continued to live in fear. Gustavo returned home to São Paulo where he organized a group of friends and negotiated with the school’s administration to form an LGBTQ student organization in response to mounting anti-LGBTQ sentiments within the community. His EXPLO experience served as the basis of his college application, and he was admitted (with a full scholarship) to the Dartmouth College Class of 2020 where he studies sociology and serves in the Office of Pluralism and Leadership.

F or Gustavo Silva, life could have been much smaller. Growing up in São Paolo, Brazil, he lived in a low income part of the city and attended a public school. When he was admitted on scholarship to the prestigious Colégio Bandeirantes, one of the most prominent educational institutions in São Paulo, he tried his best to blend in, rarely participating in class or the school community for fear of discrimination. From his college application essay: I stuck to the stereotype of a high school scholarship awardee: I performed well while mostly keeping to myself. Receiving a scholarship to EXPLO changed everything. I had never been on a plane before, talked to a foreign person, or considered the possibility of going abroad so young. I could never have allowed myself to dream of such an opportunity and I was determined to make the most of it. Would I let my timidity and fear of being judged prevent me from enjoying something I had worked so hard to achieve? Of course not! I sought opportunities to explore my interests in philosophy and sociology and discover new ones not only in political science but also gender and sexuality studies. I participated in debates, made new friends, and could finally present myself the way I wanted to because nobody carried preconceptions about who I was. Stepping beyond the bounds of my comfort zone enabled me to gain a new

To gain sight or knowledge of that which was previously unknown — and is burning to be brought to life DISCOVER

Our Academics are Far from Standard (Because You Are, Too)

EXPLO is a mindset — a place where we have big ideas; learn to collaborate, fail, and iterate; and say yes to opportunities and uncharted territory. For more than four decades, we have pioneered summer programs that combine the best aspects of summer — freedom, fun, and friends — with hands- on learning experiences that help students discover strengths and interests that light them up. The end goal at EXPLO isn’t a grade or how you perform on a standardized test. It’s to help students uncover the relevance and intrigue of a range of subjects and disciplines — to engage with a topic not just because there’s course credit at stake, but because life is a whole lot more exciting when you’re enthusiastic about a lot of different things.

I think it’s definitely important that you learn fromyour own mistakes , too. EXPLO is a good place to be able to do that. Nobody ever criticizes you if you make a mistake in your classes here. There are so many ideas that get thrown around from all the students all the time…all the mistakes are kind of a part of the process. Mason W. | EXPLO Student

Learning the Way it Should Be

In a world where schools are asking students to be standard, there often aren’t opportunities for them to reach beyond and push the horizons of their curiosity — or their potential. Even for students like Venya, who come from schools that provide after-school academic clubs, the scope is often limited to traditional subject areas. To spend two weeks exploring bioengineering at EXPLO — a multidisciplinary subject most students don’t even have access to until college or graduate school — was already a dream come true. Then she received her project prompt for the session: to create a prosthetic hand device using empathy-based design thinking. Empathy was no problem. Venya’s grandfather, a professor in India who splits time between the U.S. and U.K, was a recent partial amputee following cancer and a severe infection. The only problem was, it was his foot — not his hand — that required a prosthetic solution.

“At school it’s just a regular program that everyone has to take. Here you get to explore outside of the curriculum and learn what you want to learn — and that’s so unique to this program ,” Venya says. “I don’t think I’ll ever stop anymore. I’m so excited about what’s going on and there are so many things I want to try. I know even when school starts I’m going to find a way to contact professors or colleges around me to keep pursuing my idea.”

Did You Know? Educators from around the world come to EXPLO throughout the year to learn and practice our approach to teaching and learning. We’ve worked with schools, foundations, and nonprofit organizations from Boston to Baltimore to

Not a problem at EXPLO.

Bangalore, India, to make learning more creative and engaging for all students.

Venya approached her instructor and the curriculum designer, asking if she could instead design a shoe that would allow her grandfather to walk with less pain and greater ease. Within the day, they connected her with EXPLO’s makerspace director across campus and they began to hatch a plan.

Career Exploration: A New Lens on College Prep

We need to make the classroom more relevant , which is why I think experiential learning is going to be a big piece of higher ed moving forward. If we can really help students understand how college connects to life and how it connects to the workplace, I think they will engage differently.”

Lakeisha Mathews | Educator + Career Coach “Preparing Students for 21st Century Careers” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

People thrive when their strengths and interests are aligned with the work that they do. Summer is the perfect time for high school students to not only figure out what those strengths and interests are, but also to engage in experiences that introduce them to a range of careers and academic disciplines that excite them — well ahead of freshman year. EXPLO offers students a head-start on the career exploration that typically comes in college: ȫ ȫ Connections to industry experts

ȫ ȫ Exposure to a broad range of career opportunities in dozens of industries ȫ ȫ Projects that introduce you to the work of the profession

Space missions can take decades to develop, build, and launch, so the missions we’re designing at JPL today will be run by the next generation of Mars scientists and engineers. Engaging young people in STEM now, and giving them opportunities to participate in programs like EXPLO’s Exploratory Robotics course is really the first step in mission training! Katie Stack | EXPLO Alum + Curriculum Advisor Deputy Project Specialist 2020 Mars Rover Mission (Jet Propulsion Lab)

EXPLO offers hundred of hands-on learning experiences. Design your summer: pursue.explo.org

Says Nadya: “I have two years before I graduate. When I meet people, the first thing they usually ask me is, ‘What college are you planning to go to?’ or ‘What majors are you going to take?’ And, honestly, I don’t know. But the best way to know what you want is to try it out. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I chose EXPLO. It’s great that we get to find our passion here.” Re-designing Experiential Learning

W hen Nadya came to EXPLO to pursue her interest in interior design — something she had dabbled in as a hobby for years at home in Indonesia but had never studied seriously — the last thing she expected was to receive a commission from IKEA to design a college dorm display for their main atrium. But thanks to an exclusive partnership with the multinational Swedish home furnishings retailer, Nadya and her fellow Interior Design Studio students got to go beyond the theory of design and put their creativity into practice when a team of IKEA designers issued a design challenge and then mentored the students throughout the process. After a store tour and sourcing trip, the students pitched their designs to the IKEA team, and three winning designs were selected to be displayed in the store’s main atrium — complete with designer bios, just like a professional IKEA display.

Each summer, EXPLO students test-drive their futures. Watch at ikea.explo.org

EXPLO partners with hundreds of experts every summer who meet with students to answer their questions, share their career journey, and help them see the world through the lens of the profession they are interested in pursuing. Recent partners and advisors include: Did You Know? • Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power • NASA Jet Propulsion Lab • IKEA • Colorado Supreme Court Justice Richard Gabriel • PEZ International • Beyond Meat CEO and Honest Tea Co-Founder Seth Goldman • Fashion Designer Sarah Law • Pulitzer Prize Winner James Forman, Jr.

By getting your feet wet in these different topics, it’s really cool to see all the options you have for occupations and what you want to do for the rest of your life. Because, really, it’s never too early to see what can be possible . At a young age, you don’t want your vision to be so narrow — you want it to be as wide as it can be for when you actually have to make that choice of what you want to do. Sam T. | EXPLO Student

To follow forward a path that has been revealed and begs to be chased with fervor and authority PURSUE

We are the people of the possible

The kind of people who go on to co-found BuzzFeed and Honest Tea, lead Virgin Galactic, transform the plant-based food industry, and illuminate a nation after a natural disaster. We are Forbes 30 Under 30 winners, Inventors of the Year, Watson Fellows, Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars. Who will you be?

The strength of EXPLO is that whoever you think you are when you walk in, when you walk out you’ll have discovered so many more things about yourself. Really what you’re doing is pushing horizons. That’s the goal of EXPLO —wherever you think you’re standing, you can go further . And it may not be in the direction that you wanted to go. It might really surprise you. Jonathan London | EXPLO Alum + Advisor Director/Screenwriter/Producer

This Summer, Choose Greater Than

L ess than two months after his second EXPLO summer

on an idyllic American college campus, Salvador Gómez-Colón awoke to the near-absolute decimation of his hometown in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria — a devastating Category 5 storm — tore across the island, leaving death and destruction in its wake. No power. No clean water. Limited food. No light. Dimming hope. The Island was paralyzed. But Salvador quickly sprung into action, gathering a team to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for solar lighting, hand-powered washing machines, and cell phone chargers for their hardest-hit Puerto Rican neighbors. With Salvador at the helm, Light and Hope for Puerto Rico raised more than $133,000 and distributed 4,100 solar lamps and 1,100 hand-operated washing machines in 14 municipalities throughout the island — tripling their original goal and reaching 3,000 families. Salvador more than raised funds for his fellow Puerto Ricans — he raised his voice for them as well, appearing on CNN, penning Op-Eds for major news outlets, and joining the International Congress for Youth Voices. He was even named one of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Teens for 2017.


Time and again, students tell us that the skills and experiences gained at EXPLO last far longer than three weeks — they last a lifetime. Our alumni are serial entrepreneurs, Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees, bestselling authors, industry leaders, award-winning filmmakers, Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars, Thiel and Watson Fellows, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Since 1976, EXPLO has created custom learning experiences that help kids develop a sense of wonder, a spirit of adventure, and the courage to pursue a life full of purpose and meaning. We are explorers, trailblazers, and way-pavers in every industry imaginable, pushing past horizons to unseen shores in pursuit of a bigger life.

Many of the passions I’ve been pursuing in my career started at EXPLO, where I took classes like Model UN, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Social Development. EXPLO was also a great opportunity for me to get used to a multicultural environment. I can explicitly sense how much that has helped me now that I see many of my international classmates struggling to adapt to the MBA setting at Yale.

Andrea Rozenberg | EXPLO Alum Entrepreneur + Strategy Consultant



85,000 ALUMNI





40+ 30 UNDER 30








Every year, EXPLO students past and present tell us that the time they spent exploring and learning during the summer had an impact that continues to ripple throughout their lives. Before coming to EXPLO, their world felt small and contained. After coming to EXPLO, their vision and understanding of the world — and their place in it — expanded beyond what they ever imagined. Opportunities began springing up like wildfire — not because there were suddenly more of them, but because the sparks of curiosity, courage, and daring lit at EXPLO taught them to spot and seize them. The ripple effect starts with you — but it doesn’t end there. EXPLO is a life-changing experience that is meant to be shared. Who would you share it with? We want to make it as rewarding as possible for everyone to experience the transformational power of an EXPLO summer. Learn more about how you can help others discover their curiosity, courage, and daring at pursue.explo.org . The Ripple Effect







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