College Life

10 Creative Ways I Have the Most Fun with My College Friends All Summer Long

published Jun 26, 2024
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A diverse group of friends are in the community park having pizza and drinks
Credit: bernardbodo/Getty Images/iStockphoto

I’ve been entering my nostalgic girl era as I look toward my final year of college (what?!). Reflecting on the past three years of school, I think back to the good friends I’ve made along the way. 

I remember the first week I met my now-BFF, Aurelia, she invited me over to her house for a classic college girl hang. It felt so good to be invited and feel included, and her overall welcoming and fun outlook on life is what drew me to becoming her friend, and joining our friend circle I met after meeting her.

One of my favorite things about the girl group I’m lucky enough to be a part of is all of the creative activities we’ve come up with together. It’s so easy to get stuck in the same routine when you’re busy with school and live in the bubble of a college campus, so having friends who care about finding joy in trying new things and not taking themselves too seriously really made my college experience special.  

Aurelia and many of our other friends graduated this past spring, but that hasn’t stopped us from making big plans for this season. Here’s what’s on the docket for summer 2024.

1. Boat Day 

If you have a big group of people you can gather together on the same weekend (a challenge of its own), renting a boat for the afternoon is probably the most festive summer activity I can think of. As a proud Jersey girl, my friends and I all chip in $50 to rent a boat down the shore, near Point Pleasant, New Jersey. A little on the expensive side, but if you have a summer job and a little money to spend, you won’t regret putting your minimum wages toward this!

2. Ugly Shirt Exchange 

Everyone in your group draws the name of one person to buy a silly/embarrassing shirt for. Then, upon the day of the shirt exchange, everyone must wear the silly shirts out for the rest of the night. When my 21+ friends did this, we wore our shirts to our local bar and challenged each other to get a stranger to try the shirt on (we wore our Going Out Tops™ underneath)! 

3. Game Day in the Park 

I love picnics because they are a great activity for any size group. But one of my absolute favorite things to do in the park is play games with my friends. Picnics are a perfect opportunity to set up a speaker, enjoy your favorite snacks and drinks outside, and play some cards! Fun fact: One of my favorite parts of studying abroad in London was all the great parks that were there. My friends from abroad and I played many rounds of cards on the grass. 

4. Friend-Inspired Snacks 

Everyone in your group draws a name and then makes a snack or drink inspired by that person. Then, at the event, everyone presents their snacks/drinks to share and everyone guesses who each snack/drink is supposed to be inspired by. My 21+ friends did this with cocktails, but mocktails and appetizers would be just as fun! 

5. Break-the-Ice Slideshow Night 

If you’ve recently made some new friends through an internship, or are home for the summer and want to refresh some old high school friends on what you’ve been up to, an All About Me slideshow night is the perfect activity. Gather your friends together to share their own slideshow presentations accompanied with silly photos about what they have been doing, listening to, reading, watching, etc. It’s a fun way to talk about yourself and your interests, and learn more about your friends. I haven’t done this yet, but it’s definitely on my friend to-do list. 

6. An Afternoon at the Theater 

Sometimes the best summer activity is one that avoids being hot and sweaty outside. Matinee cinema prices are usually cheaper than the evening show ones, and seeing a movie in the middle of the day is sometimes the perfect activity to do with a friend. Popcorn, the big screen, and air conditioning! What more could you ask for? I just saw Inside Out 2 in theaters with the two cuties I babysit for, and I’m not sure who was more excited: me or the 5- and 7-year-olds!

7. Beach Sunrise Photoshoot 

Attention, East Coasters! I challenge you to wake up at 5 a.m. to see the sun rise over the ocean and take cute pictures on a disposable camera. If you live on the West Coast, you can do this with the sunset over the ocean. I’ve managed to wake up early enough to see the sun rise a few times, and it is honestly so magical — 10/10 summer activity, and the pictures are always worth having. 

8. Not-So-Standard Barbecue Party

Summer is the perfect time to learn a new skill. Barbecuing is really not that hard, and it is also fun (in my humble opinion). Invite your friends over — or invite yourself over to your grill-owning friend’s house — and have an outdoor soirée. It’s also an ideal thing to do if you are home for the summer and want to make use of all your parents’ very grown-up appliances. 

9. Bringing Back Childhood Fun 

Remember running around outside barefoot? This summer, revisit a backyard activity you used to do as a kid. Our creativity was a constant source of entertainment — it brought us together as kids, and it cost no money to have fun. I challenge everyone, including myself, to channel that inner childhood spirit and play a throwback game, like capture the flag. If you forget the rules, you can refresh your memory online or consult your nearest 10-year-old. 

10. Vision Boarding

I love to manifest the reality I want for myself, and one of the ways I do that is by making vision boards — they’ve been scarily accurate for me. This can be done online by saving photos from Pinterest and creating a digital collage or with actual poster board, glitter, stickers, etc. Either way is a great way to get your friends together and collectively manifest the year you want ahead. Summertime is a magical time. Let’s put our positive energy toward our bright futures.  

Isabella Hussar

Journalism and Political Science

Isabella Hussar is an aspiring journalist at Rutgers University. She is published in Rutgers' Daily Targum and HerCampus, and works for Rutgers' School of Communication & Information. If she's not in her cozy college apartment, you can most definitely find her in New York, where she's trying a new restaurant or taking Instagram photos of her outfits.

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SchoolRutgers University '25
MajorJournalism and Political Science
FavesCats, coffee, "Gilmore Girls," cooking, travel, music, NYC
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