Illustration by Sadie Favour '23

While we have been on campus for over a month now, many students are struggling to invent creative ways to hang out with their friends, and first-years are finding it difficult to meet new people. Being able to spend time with friends while continuing to follow St. Olaf’s Community Standards may seem difficult, but there are many opportunities to socialize safely.

Walk in the Natural Lands

St. Olaf’s campus is blessed to have the extraordinary Natural Lands and their many trails. The different trails offer a variety of distances, catering to those who would rather go on a quick walk as well as those who prefer to take a longer path. I highly recommend going on a walk with friends around sunset to experience the beautiful views! Walks in the Natural Lands are relaxing, and they provide the perfect setting for catching up with friends after a long week. For a map of the Natural Lands trails, go here.

Picnic

Instead of having a group of friends hang out in your dorm room, move it outside! Plan a day where your friends can get together to eat lunch or dinner, listen to music and just hang out.

Distanced game night

Who doesn’t love some good competition and fun? Game night is a perfect opportunity for both. 

I recommend playing What Do You Meme, Cards Against Humanity, basic card games (such as BS, War or Go Fish) and, my personal favorite, Jackbox. Jackbox Party Pack games range from trivia and drawing to fill-in-the-blank statements and more, often accompanied by voting on other players’ responses. In a similar style to Kahoot, the game displays on a screen and players participate through their phone. What I love about Jackbox is that you don’t need to be in person with your friends to play. Just start up a Zoom meeting, share your screen and your friends can play along — no matter where they are! Whether you want to play with someone off campus, with your friends from home or just don’t want to leave your dorm room, Jackbox has got you covered. 

Outdoor games

The cool autumn weather is creeping up on us, but there is still time to play outdoor games. Frisbee, soccer, cornhole or just throwing a football or baseball is a great way to get fresh air while spending quality time with friends. If you prefer a more structured game, spikeball is a great option. In spikeball, players in teams of two hit a ball onto a circular net, causing the ball to bounce back up for the other team to return. Much of the gameplay is similar to volleyball, as teammates can set each other up for spikes. You earn a point when the other team fails to return the ball or it hits the rim, and whichever team earns 21 points first wins. Spikeball tournaments allow more people to participate, and they are a great way to meet new people. Most of the equipment needed for these games is available at your dorm building’s front desk. If you can’t find the necessary equipment, ask around! There is a good chance one of your friends or someone in your building has it.


Despite the restricted options to hang out with friends during the pandemic, it is important to continue to connect with others around you. Become creative with the ways you spend time with others, and recognize that you do not need to be doing anything special to form amazing memories with your friends.