Monday, 5 December 2016

Pop-Up in SW Florida, USA - Guest writer

By Julia Kroeker

Julia is one of our independent organisers who got in touch with us in October 2016 wanting to organise her own Pop-Up Adventure Playground. We sent her our free information pack for hosting her own event and 2 months later, we were able to enjoy her excitement and photos! We're really glad that you enjoyed your first Pop-Up, Julia!

We had a wonderful event at Florida South Western State College!  The children were all very engaged and the weather was beautiful here in SW Florida!


I was tired after the event, but also happy that it went well and that the children had fun and were able to play however they wanted.  I don't think we had any conflicts.  We had nursing students on site with a first aid station, but we had no injuries so the nursing students got to play, too!

The children were full of joy and discovery!  The boy with the pool noodle was pretending that his mother was the big fish he had just caught!  The boy with the cardboard tube on his arm said it was a robot arm.  The girl laying in the box had made a bed out of the cardboard and bubble wrap.  There were so many wonderful moments! Children were building sand castles with the sand and water. Several children were using coffee cans as drums at once.  We will definitely do it again!  We plan to make it an annual event at FSW.





To host your own Pop-Up Adventure Playground, register here to get your free information pack. To find out about other independent organisers, check out this page of awesome guest blog posts. For more on the day to day thoughts of Team Pop-Up Adventure Play, check out our facebook and twitter.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Playworking Auntie: A Bouquet of Leaves

By Pop-Ups Zan

She noticed the fallen leaves on the ground and crunched over them as we walked along. Then suddenly she stopped dead and picked one up by the stem. She studied it briefly before picking up a second by the stem with the other hand. Waving them about like some sort of nature cheerleader, she wandered around with the leaves, occasionally poking them into other objects.

She let go of the leaves and ran off to climb something. I idly picked up her leaves, and then gathered a few more in one hand. She runs up to me and looks at my hands. I am holding a bunch of leaves by the stems in one hand and collecting more with the other. She reached out to take my autumnal bouquet and I help her organise it in her tiny hand. She looked at her own hand briefly before reaching to the ground, picking up a new leaf and then carefully arranging it in her hand, adding to her little bouquet. Then buoyed by the success of the last acquisition, she grabs another one.


I started making another bunch of leaves while she was busy increasing her's and almost didn't notice an older gentleman walking through the park. She walked straight up to him, with her bouquet held out in front of her and handed the whole thing to him, and walked away. He looked absolutely bewildered.

She started on another bouquet a little too quickly and wasn't very neat about it so all the stems were facing awkward to hold angles, with some falling to the ground. The gentleman looked at her, and then to me.

"I hope that made your day, sir?" I said, smiling as I approached.
"Do you know what? It kind of did!" He looked over at her as she unsuccessfully made a bouquet and the leaves fell to the ground. "She's got no shortage of leaves here," he said as he handed his gift back to me and continued his journey through the park.

At this point, she had stopped trying to gather more leaves. If she didn't hold them by the stem, they kept falling out of her hand. She ran over to me and held her hands out to take the original bouquet. She points to home and wanders off. I quickly run in the opposite direction to collect her trike from the playground and she pauses on the spot to wait for me, and together we take the leaves all the way home.

****

It turns out on this occasion, being a playworking Auntie meant that I didn't need to do very much at all. I didn't need to deploy any of the usual things I have been trained to do as a playworker: no interventions, no reframing challenging behaviours. My little niece knew what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it on her little adventure. All she needed from me was to follow her lead, and that's what I did. No words were exchanged, but it felt like she told me something important nonetheless. "I am my own person and I have my way too," she seemed to say. I will never know for sure what those moments were all about, but I was glad that I was there, and one day I might even tell her about it.

To read more from Pop-Ups Zan, check out her personal blog. To read more about play and playwork, check out our website www.popupadventureplay.org.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Vote SCVAP and Support Adventure Play in the USA

Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play dream of creating a space to allow and encourages vibrant, exciting, self-directed play opportunities for the children of Los Angeles, both now and as a future legacy. They dream of bringing their community together with play, and also taking that play out to other communities too. A dream that is in line with the one we have at Pop-Up Adventure Play.

We're asking you to help make this dream happen for SCVAP. They are in the running for $100,000 USD and need as many votes as possible. As we type this blogpost, a school amphitheatre/auditorium upgrade is in the top spot with the most votes. While they are probably awesome people, we would much rather have a child-directed play be at the helm of this intense race to the finish.

Voting is simple! Just check out http://bit.ly/voteSCVAP and click vote! 

Adventure playgrounds are the heart of what we do. When Pop-Up Adventure Play first started in 2010, there was only one permanent adventure playground with playwork-trained staff in the whole of the USA. By supporting SCVAP today, you will help to open the 4th. This is going to be a beautiful and playful site which we are backing 100% - we hope that you can support it too.


Tuesday, 18 October 2016

New Beginnings in Adventurous Play: LA

By Pop-Ups Andy

After an epic 12 year playwork journey from an un-sure 17 year old volunteer, through the stages of front-line playworker, playwork graduate and Children’s Centre Manager in the UK, I have landed here, starting a new adventure with the fine people of Pop-Up Adventure Play - Suzanna and Morgan.
I have been involved with Pop-Ups for several years as a director after graduating from Leeds Beckett University with Suzanna in 2012. In my role, I supported the team on a number of projects, although mainly the 2014 US Tour and the 2015 World Tour! It was an absolute pleasure to be welcomed into this tardis of an organisation - I’m only two weeks in, but what an amazing whirlwind adventure it has been so far!

I landed in Los Angeles to join up with Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play a group which was established on a familiar narrative to-which most playworkers can relate - by accident! The founders were reading anecdotes of adventure play during a train journey, before having the ‘lightbulb’ moment and realising their inner calling. SCVAP advocate free-play for children and adults both through pop-up adventure playgrounds which they deliver to groups, schools and organisations around LA County but also through the establishment of their fixed space, Eureka Villa.

SCVAP are in the running to be awarded $100,000 through the LA2050 Challenge – an initiative to ‘Make LA the Best Place to Play’ – the grant will enable SCVAP to take their Pop-Up Playground programme into communities throughout LA County, for a whole year, for free! This will also mean securing necessary funds to get Eureka Villa to a stage where it can officially open to the public as an adventure playground, the first permanent adventure playground in Los Angeles.

This project is of great importance to the USA, to the international Playwork community, to Pop-Up Adventure Play, to SCVAP but the most important recipient of this amazing project is the children, young people and their families who will benefit from this project both directly and indirectly. For me, this is such an amazing position to be in, at such a crucial time. Being able to be part of this project, in the thick of it, to campaign for it, to get my hands dirty and be a part of its journey, is truly tremendous! We know that by allowing children access to rich-play opportunities such as this space, it will support them to develop socially, emotionally and physically through unrestricted interaction with both themselves and others, in a space that encourages freedom and choice.

This is a huge deal - Voting takes place from 18th October (today!) until 25th October (next Tuesday) - every vote counts


I’m pleased to be starting with Pop-Up Adventure Play as they team up with SCVAP to host the first playwork-focused conference in the USA. The camping conference will bring international experts and play advocates together in an arena designed to share experiences, encourage debate and provide opportunity for some self-reflection. The conference will be held over four days with practical skills-based workshops and conversation in the form of a Playwork Campference. The Campference will include keynote presentations from Prof. Fraser Brown, author of leading Playwork publications - Foundations of Playwork; Playwork: Theory and Practice, A screening of The Land documentary, incorporating an exclusive Q&A Panel consisting of Erin Davis, film director of The Land, Luke Sutton, former Playworker from The Land supported by Prof. Fraser Brown and Morgan Leichter-Saxby - A line-up not to be missed!



The Campference takes place between 16th to 19th February 2017. Places are filling-up fast so if you'd like more information or to book your place contact suzanna@popupadventureplay.org right now!

It’s really great to officially be part of the Pop-Up team. More soon!


To vote for SCVAP, click here. To register for the Campference, click here. To find out more about Eureka Villa, click here. To follow more of the adventures of Pop-Up Adventure Play, check out our Facebook and our website.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

"Supporting the Play Comes First" - Guest Writer

By Louise Wark

When we met Louise in Singapore on our World Tour, we were a little humbled to be meeting such a wonderfully connected and passionate advocate who was looking to us for advice. Louise has been working towards a more playful life a long time now and we are delighted that she has taken some time out from her own blog Days of Play to guest write for us. Thanks Louise, you are awesome!

I was recently asked to speak at an event for preschool teachers here in Singapore. As I usually do before an event like this, I researched for days. I fell down the rabbit-holes of the internet, chasing ideas and trying to find ways to neatly package up big concepts about numeracy and play.

The entire experience made me incredibly contemplative. It has been more than twelve months since I left the classroom, after all.

I left classroom teaching because I had no play in my life, and was wanting more. While I loved what I did, there was very little playfulness in the way I approached any aspect of life. I was also beginning to see that this wasn’t just me - even the children in my care, and, most importantly, my own son, were having play squeezed into increasingly-smaller pockets of their days. Play was on the periphery, and I was ready to make it centre-stage.


Pop-Up Adventure Play came into my view after being mentioned at a play conference that I had managed to attend in school holiday time. On my laptop that was never shut down, I had their blog consistently open in a tab. It was there to remind me, in the wee hours of student report writing and lesson planning, of an idea that wouldn’t shake loose.

So when I finished full-time teaching, I took a deep breath and emailed. Suzanna’s response back was warm and encouraging and made me do a little happy-dance - they would be in Singapore soon on their World Tour, and maybe I would like to help?

The excitement I felt at being part of Pop-Up Adventure Play’s visit to Singapore was hard to match. Helping to source materials for numerous pop-up adventure playgrounds, having the opportunity to discuss play with educators and other stakeholders here in Singapore, seeing child-led play in action and adults reactions to this, was a huge privilege. It moved my ideas about play from intuitive, abstract feelings to concrete ideas that I could use actual words to describe.


Since that time, I have started my own blog about self-directed play here in Singapore, writing about my experiences as a parent ensuring that my son’s time in child-led play, especially in the outdoors, is protected. That his rights as a child, to play, are front and foremost in his childhood.

But this has not been the only change since Pop-Up Adventure Play’s World Tour. Spending time with Suzanna and Morgan in November 2015, and Suzanna again in June 2016 on her subsequent visit to Singapore, has helped me realise just how important play is in all of our lives. That the way we adults respond to events, environments and circumstances can be playful, too! Time away from the classroom, focusing on play, has shown me that conversations are playful opportunities to throw ideas around, not just to determine action and tick things off a to-do list. That the world is there for us to interact with, not just to learn about.


When it finally came time to put together my own Pop-Up Adventure Playground here in Singapore, I felt ready. Having seen Suzanna and Morgan run these events had made me realise that they are truly a celebration of play - and how can you ever script how play is going to go? It was not about me, or the materials I could find, or the things I wanted to see happen. The event was solely to give children a chance to lead their own play. My best preparation was to be playful.

I couldn’t have imagined a more blissful time at our first pop-up adventure playground. The environment offered itself to the children, who took up every playful opportunity. Hills were rolled down, precious creations were made and torn down, alliances were formed and abandoned, spaces were protected and invitations made. The adults were amazed, most reporting how much they loved being with other families whose agendas were the same as theirs - to give their children time for play their own way.


Once the last box had been flattened and the last fluttering ribbon returned to the car, I turned, rather exhausted from the tropical midday heat, to my husband. He was buzzing, his eyes bright and his head full of stories of play. “I get it now,” he said. “I just saw everything you have been talking about for the past year come alive in a few hours.” His exhilaration at seeing something so precious, yet so simple, was infectious.

Because seeing children at play shows you how capable they are, and how they are not “learning” how to be human; they already are. That our children have the right to play, and by polluting their play with terms like ‘learning through play’, or placing our own perceptions of the world and what play should be, takes that away from them.


Which makes Pop-Up Adventure Play’s work all the more important. It’s easy to fall into talking about the benefits of play, and the reasons that it is important for children, and the great things that happen for children who play. And they do. But what these incredible playworkers have taught me, especially through the Playworker Development Course, is that supporting the play comes first. That to see the benefits, to see the great things that happen in play, we first have to provide time, space and permission for play.

To become an independent organiser and host your own pop-up adventure playground, register here. To learn more about more about Pop-Up Adventure Play, check out our website www.popupadventureplay.org