March 30, 2016
Next Indiana Campfires will connect literature, nature and Bicentennial

Indiana Humanities to launch statewide series with May 4 kick-off event featuring environmental authors Terry Tempest Williams and Scott Russell Sanders

Indiana Humanities is launching “Next Indiana Campfires,” a series that pairs literature and nature to help Hoosiers explore Indiana’s wild places and spark conversations about conservation and stewardship. The May 4 kick-off event will feature a conversation between environmental authors Terry Tempest Williams and Scott Russell Sanders at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

“Indiana’s landscapes have inspired generations of Hoosiers and led to legacies like the state parks system and great works of literature and art,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “During our Bicentennial year, we hope to inspire Hoosiers to re-connect with our beautiful landscapes and use literature to help frame important conversations about what we’ll leave for future generations.”

Next Indiana Campfires will be held in some of Indiana’s most diverse landscapes – places like the Limberlost swamps, an old growth forest in Evansville and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. A humanities scholar will serve as facilitator and lead attendees on a pre-determined route by foot, kayak or canoe, and stop periodically to read aloud the words of important Hoosier authors. Participants will then gather for food and drink around a campfire to discuss connections between nature, literature and place.

The series locations and dates include:

  • May 11: Oliver’s Woods, Indianapolis. An hour-long walk through a Central Indiana Land Trust property not normally open to the public.
  • May 22: Wesselman Woods Old Growth Forest, Evansville, Ind. A 90-minute walk through Indiana’s largest stand of old growth forest.
  • June 7: McVey Memorial Forest, Randolph County. A 75-minute walk through upland forest interspersed with wetlands and prairie.
  • June 9: Syracuse-Wawasee Trails, Syracuse, Ind. A 90-minute sunset walk around Syracuse Lake.
  • June 18: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Ind. An epic hike across the Indiana Dunes’ 4.6 mile Cowles Bog Trail, allowing hikers to witness the dunes’ unique ecological succession.
  • July 9-10: Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Martinsville, Ind. A backcountry hike and overnight camping trip in the hills of southern Indiana in partnership with DNK Presents.
  • July 23: Merry Lea Environmental Education Center, Wolf Lake. A morning walk across prairie and wetland followed by a meal featuring local, sustainable foods, including those grown at the Merry Lea farmstead.
  • July 29: Eagle Creek Park, Indianapolis. A two-hour sunset paddling tour on Eagle Creek Reservoir and Fishback Creek.
  • August 5: Prophetstown State Park, Lafayette, Ind. A sunset hike across the restored prairie, concluding with a discussion inside the Native American council house on site.
  • August 14: Cardinal Greenway and Red-tail Nature Preserve, Muncie, Ind. A bike ride on the Cardinal Greenway to the preserved prairie of Red-tail Land Conservancy.
  • September 10: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Ind. A 90-minute walk along the Dunes Succession Trail.
  • September 17: Hovey Lake Bald Cypress Swamps, Mt. Vernon, Ind. A sunset paddle through the northernmost stand of bald cypress trees anywhere in the nation.
  • October 8: LaPorte County Watershed, Michigan City, Ind. An indelible journey down Trail Creek by long canoe.
  • October 8: Limberlost State Historic Site, Geneva, Ind. Hike the restored Loblolly Marshes that inspired Gene Stratton Porter’s beloved novel A Girl of the Limberlost.
  • October 28: Glaciers End Nature Preserve, Johnson County. A two-hour trek through a unique ecological site, not open to the general public, shaped by the progress and retreat of glaciers.
  • November 5: Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Tecumseh Trail, Martinsville, Ind. A late-autumn hike along the Tecumseh Trail.

Each event has a minimal charge of $10 to $15 except for the overnight camping trip in Morgan-Monroe State Forest which will cost $200 for the weekend’s activities. A limited number of fee waivers will be available for each excursion and will be awarded based on financial need. Additional locations will be announced at a later date.

Do-it-yourself “Trek and Talk Toolkits” will also be available for free to 1,000 people who want to create their own Next Indiana Campfire. Toolkits will include suggested itineraries, a literary text and discussion prompts, a Next Indiana Campfire patch, snacks and more. Learn more at

To kick-off the series, Indiana Humanities will host an INconversation with Terry Tempest Williams at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art on May 4 at 6:30 p.m. Acclaimed Indiana writer Scott Russell Sanders will moderate the discussion. Williams, a Guggenheim Fellow and titan of environmental literature, has been called a “citizen writer” for her fierce advocacy of freedom of speech about environmental issues. Tickets are $10. Register at

Next Indiana Campfires is generously supported by the Efroymson Family Fund, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires and the Ball Brothers Foundation. Upland Brewing Co. will be providing in-kind support as the craft beer sponsor. Additional in-kind support provided by Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Indiana Humanities is supported in part by Lilly Endowment Inc. and the National Endowment of the Humanities.


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