Getting Over Cabin Fever

    Reclaim recess

    Illustrations by Claire Anderson/North by Northwestern

    Reconnect with your lava-monster, freeze-tag self of school days past. Raymond Park (trapezoidally enclosed by Chicago, Grove, Hinman, and Lake) boasts monkey bars, a slide, and plenty of greenery and benches. Or test your game at Tallmadge Park on Colfax and Ridge. There’s no playground, but the park features an unusual circular basketball court divided into three pie slices, with three hoops spaced along the edge. Call it tribasketball.

    Sail a boat
    What are a tack and a jibe? Where are the jib and the halyard? Learn the ropes at Northwestern’s Sail Center, offering lessons for sailboats, windsurfing and catamarans (speedy Siamese-twin-like boats). Once you’ve mastered the sea — er, lake — swing by and rent a boat for $30 to $90 an hour, depending on the boat model, the date and whether or not you are a member. If you fall in love with harnessing the power of wind over water, get a month-long student membership for $179. Just remember: This is not a cheap hobby. Call 847-491-4142 for lessons sign-up or more info.

    Ride a bike

    Buffalo travel in packs to avoid getting picked off by lions; bikers travel in swarms to avoid getting run over. This is the logic behind “Critical Mass” group rides. If you want to zip around Chicago, the group meets at Dearborn and Washington around 5:30 p.m. on the last Friday of each month. If you want something more local, meet fellow bikers at Fountain Square (Davis, Sherman and Orrington) at 6:30 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. But if you’d rather cycle by yourself, just follow the lakefront path.

    Pitch a tent
    Norris loans camping gear at great prices. Their two-person weekend packages range from $35 to $45 for 72 hours of camping fun. A tent, two sleeping bags and mission-specific items for the Fishing Trip, the Weekend Warrior and the Backpacker packages are available. You can also rent items like lanterns, stoves and sports equipment on a day-by-day basis. For details, call 847-491-2345 or visit the Norris website. Find nearby campgrounds at, then pack your bags and hop on the Metra to the great outdoors.

    Wash a car

    Smear sudsy soap on salt-stained cars for money. You can blow bubbles, get a tan, and make a profit for your student group, all at the same time! Call Facilities Management at 847-491-5201 to reserve the Garrett parking lot for your group, and they’ll provide all the necessary supplies besides soap and sponges. To sign up for this lucrative fun in the sun, you must be part of a campus organization. Plan a few weeks ahead of time and have your billing info ready; they’ll ask for it in case you break a hose or lose a nozzle.

    Sling a hammock

    There’s not really a precedent or set of rules for this. Permitted on the Lakefill? Several phone calls to Norris Outdoors, the Northwestern Facilities Management, Risk Management and Police Department revealed that you’ll need to fill out an outdoor event request form (even if it’s just you and your hammock), and be prepared to explain yourself. And no damaging the vegetation — a hammock is fine, just don’t axe any pines to build a cabin. Also, NUPD discourages sleeping on the Lakefill.

    Sow a seed
    On weekend mornings, experience the satisfaction of sawing and hacking at evil vegetation with Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED). Weed out invasive buckthorn or garlic mustard, and plant lovely native species. Sure, you need to get up early on a weekend morning, but nothing cures a hangover like the fresh air of local woodland, prairie and savanna ecosystems. Site locations and trip times vary, so contact Jackie Beard at for details.


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