2021 Creative Writing Summer Camp

Registration for the 2021 Creative Writing Summer Camp at the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home is now open! Every year, Professor Watermelon, aka Chadwick Gillenwater, guides campers as they draw inspiration from the life and works of James Whitcomb Riley, as well as our historic home and neighborhood.

Special COVID Guidelines
This summer the Home will offer an in-person camp with COVID safety restrictions. The attendance will be capped at eight campers, so reserve your spot now! Campers will be required to wear masks when inside, but the camp will include frequent, socially distant outdoor mask breaks, weather permitting. Campers will also have their own work space that will allow social distancing, and they will meet in a well-ventilated room in our spacious Visitor Center.

For those unable to attend in person or interested in another option, this year’s Creative Writing Summer Camp will include a virtual component. Throughout the week, virtual campers will tune in for an hour in the morning to participate in one of the day’s writing activities with Professor Watermelon, and for another hour in the afternoon to share what they’ve written throughout the day.

Virtual campers will also receive a special “museum in a box” with creative inspirations for the week’s writing activities. For more information, check out our website or contact Chris Mize at cmize@rileykids.org.

Camp Description
There will be two sessions of camp this year, the first from June 21 – June 25 and a second session from July 19 – July 23. In-person camps will run from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. with an hour break for lunch as well a snack break in the morning and afternoon. Campers are to bring their own lunch; snacks will be provided. Weather permitting, all meals will be enjoyed outside in the Home’s spacious lawns and gardens.

During the week, campers will create original works of fiction, while enjoying creative writing activities. In-person campers will enjoy the opportunity to earn fun prizes daily, while virtual campers will receive a prize in their camp packages.

Chadwick Gillenwater, aka Professor Watermelon, will lead both sessions. As an experienced Creative Writing teacher and children’s author, Professor Watermelon has many years of experience helping young authors find their own creative muses!

Registration is $200 for in-person instruction; $50 for virtual.

For more information, please contact Chris Mize cmize@rileykids.org.


We are excited to welcome the public back into the historic Victorian home of James Whitcomb Riley, the “Hoosier Poet.” We are working hard to ensure the health and safety of all our guests as they visit our historic site and visitor center. We will reopen with a limited tour capacity, with updated guidelines to keep you safe as you tour our historic home.

New Safety Guidelines For Visitors

We have implemented the following new policies and procedures to ensure a safe visit for you and your family.

  • Advance Tickets: Advance reservations are required for all visitors. All tours will be limited to no more than five persons, from a single-family group.
  • Social Distancing: Our docent will follow appropriate social distancing requirements throughout the tour, and we ask all guests to make their best effort to do the same.
  • Face Masks: Face masks are required for all visitors ages 2 or older (unless medically unable to wear a mask).
  • Rescheduling: If you feel unwell, please stay home. We will gladly work with you to honor your tour ticket at another time when you feel better.

Virtual Tours

The James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home now offers virtual tours for large groups. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the Museum Home is limiting in-person tours to groups of five and smaller. Live, interactive virtual tours can be scheduled throughout the week, and will feature exclusive views of the Museum Home’s interior and artifacts. Please contact Chris Mize at 317-808-8565 or cmize@rileykids.org for more information or to schedule a tour today!