Six Safe On-campus Hangout Ideas: Fall Edition

We know by now that washing hands and wearing a mask are good for us, but those aren’t the only practices protecting us from the coronavirus. Studies have shown how social ties reduce stress and inflammation, boost our immune systems, improve our mood, extend our lifespan and help us cope with difficult situations.

Knowing that friendship is also one of the most important aspects of a healthy and meaningful college experience, The Bell brainstormed a few pandemic-proof ways you can be enjoying your friends this semester on campus.

Here they are:

Get to know the people in your household

Although there are strict guidelines in place for how students can interact with people on another floor or in another residence hall, you don’t have to be socially distant with the people living in your “household.” Treat this new format as an opportunity to form close relationships and mask-free fellowship with the people you see every day.

Not sure how to break the ice? Try out 25 Questions to Ask When You Need a Break from COVID-19 Conversations to get the conversation flowing.

Invite a friend for a picnic under colorful fall foliage

This fall Dining Services has greatly expanded its to-go options, enabling students to enjoy their meals outside, so why not meet up with a friend for a lunch picnic? Favorite spots include the quad, Gordon woods and any stretch of grass beneath bright autumn leaves. To switch things up, make your own food for the picnic. Find a recipe you’ve never tried and bring enough to (safely) share!

For information on sharing food safely, check out this article by The New York Times.

Organize a mask decorating party with your household

Now that masks are a part of our everyday wardrobe, they’ve become a functional and fashionable accessory—right up there with printed socks, knitted scarves and winter hats. So, get together with some friends from your household and throw a mask decorating party. From Red Sox patches to hand embroidery, there are many easy and expensive ways to make your masterpiece.

Stay active with low-risk outdoor sports

While close contact may not be possible, you can still kick a soccer ball, practice lacrosse passes, or strike up a game of volleyball (check out the beach volleyball court behind Bromley!) when you are looking for a fun way to pass the time.

For runners, the Gordon woods are a great place to log some miles. Experienced tennis players and anyone looking for a new hobby can take to one of Gordon’s six tennis courts for some physically-distant fun. And of course, students with bikes on campus can take advantage of the warm weather before winter arrives.

Carve your own jack-o-lanterns

With local grocery stores offering home delivery, it’s easy to have pumpkins brought to campus. Although you won’t be able to trick or treat over at Parson’s Hill this October, you can still carve, paint or decorate your own pumpkins and display them outside your residence hall.

Check out this article for 45 creative ways to carve a pumpkin (for beginners).

Go stargazing during and after a new moon

The best time to look for constellations, planets and other cosmic phenomena with your college friends is during or after a new moon when the sky is darkest. Even if your knowledge of the night sky is limited to the Big Dipper, you can download the SkyView Lite stargazing app in advance. It uses the camera on your phone to identify stars and other celestial objects.

Also on Halloween night, you can glimpse a rare blue moon, which is only possible every two to three years. Its name is a bit of a misnomer. This moon is not blue in color. What makes it unusual is that it’s the second full moon to appear in the same calendar month.

Article by Anna Kinkade ’21psychology and communication arts