Category Archives: The Parish School Adventure Playground

Playwork Virtual Campference Coming Soon

There’s a Playwork Virtual Campference coming up quick on the horizon. Wait, never been to a campference, virtual, playwork or otherwise? I’m with you there, this will be my first.

Campference homepage and registration

Pop-Up Adventure Play’s campference concept is quite simple really – identify enthusiastic hosts/partners, bring people together to camp in the great outdoors in an environment that lends itself to building community and involve passionate and respected resource people to share their knowledge. That was the successful premise behind the first two campferences in Houston, Texas (2019) and Val Verde, California (2017) – more about them here.

The twist for the third edition, in partnership with Bernheim’s Children at Play Network, is the virtuality of it all. Moving the 2021 campference online is a safety precaution in response to the ongoing risks of COVID-19. Pop-Up Adventure Play has for years taken an outside of the box approach to building community through play. Campference participants can expect an online experience that reflects this creative tradition which will include in part, simultaneous translation in Spanish, Turkish, Portuguese and Arabic.

The powerhouse, cross-Atlantic team led by Suzanna Law and Morgan Leichter-Saxby is now entering its second decade. They have criss-crossed the US, Canada, Australia, parts of Asia and points in between working with local communities to animate public events and lead workshops to promote play. In addition, they offer an online Playworker Development Course. The playwork ethos is being exported around the world and has given birth to an international network of alumni engaged in play advocacy, research and programming.

The Pop-Up crew draws on extensive practical experience and academic knowledge of adventure playgrounds, playwork and loose parts in a variety of cultural contexts. This solid experiential and research foundation informs a world view situating play as an essential, intrinsically valuable activity in a child’s life – a source of joy, discovery and renewal.

2019 Campference participants – Houston, Texas

Campferences provide an opportunity to invite discussion, share experiences, challenge stereotypes and connect with others who value the child’s right to play. Though time will be compressed in this virtual edition all of the above will be on offer. I am particularly excited to hear from filmmakers David Reeks and Renata Meirelles, directors of the Brazilian-produced, feature-length documentary, The Territory of Play (trailer here).

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Registration details for the September 24 Campference here. Cost is very modest – group rates and financial assistance available.

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I had an opportunity to work/play with the Pop-Up crew when they came to Halifax a few years back for a public lecture, a practitioner’s workshop and a huge, wide-open loose parts event that had over 200 kids playing up a storm.

It was wonderful to spend time in their company and experience their passion for kid’s play firsthand. On that day at the outdoor, loose parts emporium, joy overflowed our sundrenched patch of urban green. It was a wonderbuzz of bright smiles, gobsmacked eyes and busy building hands – indelible moments of kids doing their own thing.

Adults were engaged too. My 80-something papa popped in. I could see the glint in his eye and the spring in his step as he quietly walked around and took in the pure fun of it all.

It was a grand day wrapped up in the grounded, unpretentious, fun-filled approach that characterizes the Pop-Up way.

Zan, Me, Morgan and Andy – Halifax, Canada 2017

California Dreamin’

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There’s a great play event coming to Southern California from February 16 through 19, 2017. Don’t dream about it, escape from grey sky winter days and experience a new adventure playground in development. This ‘campference’ is brought to you by the globe trotting good folks at Pop-Up Adventure Play and Val Verde’s Santa Clarita Adventure Play who will be welcoming participants to Eureka Villa.

The Campference will headline Professor Fraser Brown, Head of Playwork at Leeds Beckett University’s School of Health & Community Studies, Erin Davis, Director of the documentary The Land, and Jill Wood, founder of “AP” adventure playground in Houston, Texas.

Campference programming will also include a variety of hands on workshops, keynote Q&As, a screening of The Land, discussions and activities surrounding playwork theory and practice with National and International playworkers, and more.

Pop­-Up Adventure Play was founded in 2010 by Suzanna Law and Morgan Leichter­Saxby and aims to help make a children’s right to play a reality in every neighborhood by disseminating playwork principles to a range of audiences. Operating primarily in the US and UK, they provide long­ distance and in ­person support to play advocates in seventeen countries and recently completed a world lecture tour.

Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play was founded by Jeremiah Dockray and Erica Larsen­Dockray in 2014 after Jeremiah began the playwork course. While working on a course assignment he came across an abandoned 2 acre park which is now the developing home of Eureka Villa Adventure Playground. It will be the only adventure playground in Los Angeles County.

Get your tent, sleeping bag and campfire stories ready for a Santa Clarita Valley Adventure this February. Early bird discount registration closes October 2. Last chance to register is January 16. Registration details here.

Oh and did I mention that Suzanna and Morgan (the dynamic duo co-founders of Pop-Up Adventure Play) have penned their own book and most recently

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co-published, with Australian friends Playground Ideas, Loose Parts Manual. You can get your free copy here.

PS – remember to bring marshmallows…..

It’s A Great Play Weekend in Ithaca, New York

Have you heard about the Ithaca Children’s Garden 2nd Annual Play Symposium on today and tomorrow (October 2 and 3)? If you’re in the neighbourhood, don’t miss it. It’s a movement of play people!

Ithaca's Day of Play Poster smaller copy
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It’s a bit out of our reach for a weekend drive (3,200 kilometres return) or we’d be there. Wouldn’t miss this evening’s screening of Erin Davis’ The Land.

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I’d be in the front row for PlayGroundology friend Jill Wood’s presentation on The Parish School’s Adventure Playground in Houston, Texas


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And then of course there are the Pop-Up Players extraordinaire Suzanna and Morgan. I would love to wish them bon voyage in person as they kick off their 2015 world play tour – first stop Ithaca, New York and then on to Costa Rica and points beyond.

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Wishing organizers, presenters, participants and of course the players a great conference weekend. PlayGroundology and Adventure PlayGround YHZ are there in spirit…

Ithaca Children's GardenIthaca Children’s Garden