Combating cabin fever: scavenger hunts in student housing

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By: Cassidy Martenson

Staff Writer

While COVID-19 may be limiting many aspects of on-campus housing, one Resident Assistant) is doing their part to keep residents engaged with student activities. Dmitri Nickell, an RA in Riverview, has been designing scavenger hunts around the community for his residents. 

Nickell became an RA this semester and quickly generated this innovative idea to engage with his residents. 

“I would say the ability to engage with others and provide fun activities to making living on campus more enjoyable is my favorite part of being an RA,” Nickell explained. 

Nickell implemented the scavenger hunt plan after researching activity ideas for his residents. He reached out to his residents for their opinions and found that many students were interested in the activity and potential for prizes. A Facebook page was created to post the item students should look for alongside a hint. 

The first post contained a photo of a small heart key chain alongside the hint, “Have you ever heard of the Pont des Arts in Paris? If you haven’t, look it up!” The Pont des Arts is a famous pedestrian bridge in Paris, which gave a clue as to the location of the keychain. The keychain was found on the IU South Bend pedestrian bridge, the campus’ own Pont des Arts. 

Students who find the item must take a photo, post it to the Facebook page, and take it to Dmitri to claim their five-dollar gift card prize. Desiree Shepherd, a Riverview resident, won the first scavenger hunt but said the real reward was not the prize itself. 

“I enjoyed the experience more than finding the actual item as it was nice to have a simple but fun event within the building,” Shepherd said.

The scavenger hunt gave students the opportunity to take a break and get outside. 

Students have enjoyed participating in the scavenger hunts since COVID-19 has limited many on-campus activities. The RAs in housing have been working hard to keep students entertained while still following protocols for health and safety. 

 “A big topic of one of our staff meetings was how we can prevent ‘cabin fever’ in residents,” Nickell said.

The answer to cabin fever? Scavenger hunts are a great way for students to have fun while staying safe. 

 “The pandemic has made so many people feel alone, and it is more important now than ever to foster friendships between our fellow peers,” Shepherd said. 

These scavenger hunts are only the first step towards rebuilding the campus community after this period of isolation. Students are looking forward to more opportunities to create community on campus. 

Nickell will continue to host bi-weekly scavenger hunts for the Riverview residents if participation remains high. 

“I want to engage with my residents and get them active in the community to show that RA’s aren’t just here to ‘police’ campus housing,” Nickell explained.

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