Category Archives: The Territory of Play

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