Playworkers make a point of going where invited. With children this usually means waiting to be asked to join in play, rather than blundering over with our own ideas. This tour is one extension of that idea.
We'd had emails of interest from people all over the country and suspected that linking them together as a tour would benefit everyone - lower travel costs mean more partners can be involved, offering more play for all! And almost as soon as we made this idea public, it began to snowball (appropriate enough for the winter we'd been having). Suzanna's original goal of 7 stops (one for each weekend) was quickly surpassed and by the end we had 16 locations. Sixteen.
That's why this Thank You goes out, most heartily, to the hosts who made it possible by inviting us into their settings, their communities and often even their homes. They organized lecture halls and dining rooms, projectors and dinners. Some cooked, or gave us backs of snacks for the road. Others hugged us tight when we said goodbye, and more than we'd expected broke into tears. We had been invited there to talk, to teach, but we learned an enormous amount from each of them in the process. Their warmth and dedication, their passion for play and love for their communities were astonishing.
The Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play team at the site of their amazing new play space.
We met teachers and parents, landscape architects, museum staff, parks and recreation staff, aquatics coaches and artists - a huge diversity of people who care about play and want to do more to support it in everyday life. Being asked to speak to these audiences was a privilege, and a sign of enormous trust on the part of the hosts. From each of them, we learned how people in incredibly different environments were already supporting play, sneaking it in through beurocratic cracks or making impassioned arguments to authority.
Manhattan Beach, CA
But many of them admitted to having felt terribly alone. Luckily, this was something we could help with.
We started by asking each host to create a box of scrap goodies for the next location, forming a relay of gifts that lassoed the country. It was an idea that has been received warmly, and here is a little slideshow of this cool little exchange.
We are now match-making individuals and groups interested in connecting to inspire and encourage each other. The movement is already here, already happening, but playworkers should never work in isolation. Talk to your friends, your colleagues - and of course to us! - and we'll keep growing, together.
This is the second of three thank you posts from the Pop-Up Adventure Play and Special Guests Tour 2014. You can read the first one here. It you want to see more photos from the tour, please visit the album on our facebook page. For regular updates from us, hop onto our mailing list on www.popupadventureplay.org.