Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Frolic Adventure in Hurstbridge: Guest Writer

By Nicole Burke

We met Nicole when we were on tour in Australia and had a great time with her and Justine, together known as Journey Into Play. They have just started a new side project called Frolic where they are hoping to run Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds in their locality. We're delighted that Nicole was able to take time out of her busy schedule to reflect on their first ever Pop-Up as she and Justine prepare to go on tour themselves.

"Thick cloud over Victoria with a low pressure trough and cold front is causing showers and storms, some severe. Low cloud in the southwest corner with brisk onshore winds is producing frequent showers". Someone forgot to inform the bureau of meteorology that our first ever Frolic – Pop Up Play event was happening today. We knew that the play must go on, so we moved the event from the green luscious (and now wet) meadows of Ferguson’s Paddock to the ‘weather proof’ Hurstbridge Bowls Club.

Driving up the dirt road, through huge muddy puddles I was honking my car horn with excitement. As I arrived I saw my fellow play enthusiast Justine Walsh jumping in the air with joy! We were ready to get the show on the road.

By the time we had moved our ‘loose parts’ into the club we were soaking wet but nothing was going to dampen our spirits. Especially when people started to arrive right on 10am carrying boxes and items they had collected in hard rubbish!

Children and parents not only embraced it, they loved it! Parents couldn’t stop thanking us and talking to us about how great it all was. They were keen to find out more - Why are you doing this? When will the next one be? Please come back to Hurstbridge for it!


Before we knew, it was time to pack up, and return the Hurstbridge Bowls Club back to its members. Wow, what a day, as we sat down to reflect on the event, a question was posed “What was your favourite moment?”

This made me stop and think for a little while. It went by so quick, non-stop playing, constantly happening, my initial answer was that the whole experience was my favourite. But then I started to recall specific moments that stood out for me.

During the event, I would scan the room at times taking it all in. One of these times is when I noticed a child, around 8 years old, sitting in a box. She was looking around the room at everything. She smiled and screamed out loud “this is awesome”. I felt her joy. Her realization that she could do whatever she wanted.

Annabel has just recently turned 2 learnt a new word at Frolic -”Junk”. Loved it.

Annabel was playing with her mum and using the large gloves. My daughter Sophia, who is a few days younger than Annabel, observed this play, turned around, and walked over to source herself an industrial grade glove, almost her size.  Once she found the glove, she returned to join in the play. This was a simple but special moment.

These are just a few of my favourite moments. Though there are too many to keep sharing.

Lots of reflecting has occurred both personally and with Justine, since we all enjoyed Frolic. Things that could be done differently next time, things that may have been different had we been outside in an open space, things we may personally do differently in our role, what we had thought our role would have been and what it turned out to be.

Overall, I was so happy and proud of the Frolic and the Hurtsbridge community coming together for the purpose of play.  To see everyone having fun, including the parents but especially the children. Children of all ages - babies to early teens.

We hope to be hanging out with Nicole and Justine when we return to Australia in October. In the meantime, if you fancy your hand at running your own Pop-Up Adventure Playground, please get in touch with us either through our Facebook or website, we can send you our free resource pack to get you started!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Swan Hill Harmony Day: Guest Writer

By Joelle Whiting

We met Joelle in Swan Hill when we were on tour in Australia. It was boiling hot during the days we were in Swan Hill, so we are really pleased that these folk paid attention even in the uncomfortable weather and decided to do a Pop-Up Adventure Playground! We're really pleased that Joelle has taken some time to reflect on her Pop-Up and write us a piece. Thank you!

On the 28th of March, Swan Hill celebrated its 6th annual Harmony Day. The children’s activities on the day has always been a highlight for the younger ones. This year would be no exception. Our aim was to allow children to play freely regardless of their age, gender, race and abilities because play does not discriminate and everyone belongs.

After attending a Pop-Up Adventure Play workshop in Swan Hill, a few of us volunteered to deliver a Pop-Up at the event. We knew that we needed lots of boxes. Recycled bins of local whitegoods shops were raided and the boxes stored at our houses and the library.

We needed lots of boxes.

A week before, I took my children to the park and tested some of the trees. They passed! During the event, there were about 7 children swinging on the tree at once!

Anna trying out the trees before the event.

The made up swings during the event.

Many older children were also interested in what was going on. I told them that they could do whatever they wanted with the materials but they were not quite sure if this was true. After rummaging through the boxes, they finally built a small cubby house.

The Cubby house was decorated…

And tea was served.
Adults who accompanied their younger children were also spotted looking for items in the boxes, looking for tape and glue to make their own creation.
One travelling family were very impressed by the mess! Watching their younger child, the father said, “I don’t know what he is doing, but he is making something?” He was intrigued by his son’s concentration and ideas. Another adult told a group of children that their cubby was great. To that they answered “this is a train!”
I observed a young boy who found some yarn on the grass. He roll it into a ball and decided to tape all around it. He made a ball! He then threw it in the air and caught the ball with a small container. He did it a few times and caught the ball each time. A younger child looked at me and said “I want to do it”. I suggested that he asked the boy how to make it. “I’ll make one for you” I heard him say.
There were children pulling old tyres, cooking in the sandpit, sword fighting, drawing... they played together, talked and laughed and encouraged each other as well. We found that the materials inspired a real sense of harmony and respect not only between children but also between adults and the children.
On the day we estimated that over 200 children came through our pop-up playground. It was not easy to count all the children. We had some orange sticker dots that we gave everyone who were in the play area and at the end counted the left over. 
Before packing up, we approached the children and suggested that they take anything they wanted to continue playing at home. They were overwhelmed by the idea and I felt like Oprah!
We started packing up at around 8pm as night started to fall. We put all the broken boxes in a skip bin and recycled what we could. Many parents and helpers stayed to help us clean up. 
During the event, drawing boards and pastels were also used. I brought all the drawings home as I could not think of throwing them out before seeing them. Someone left a message that would summed up the event: “Do what you love, love what you do! Hello… Smile” :)

A big thank you to Morgan and Suzanna who gave us an avenue to do just that and to our team members; Brenda, Amy, Rachael, Freshta and Sabira.  

Ava and Maeve’s creation.
To host your very own Pop-Up Adventure Playground like Joelle and friends, simply fill in our online form, or shoot us an email and we can talk you through the process! To find our more about us, please visit www.popupadventureplay.org.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The New Adventure Playground Movement - Available for Purchase

By Zan

It is with great joy and excitement that we announce that our book is now available for purchase directly from us! Here's a bit about our book:
"When Morgan Leichter-Saxby and Suzanna Law got into their little yellow car for the first time, they knew that an adventure of a lifetime was about to begin. Their objective was to connect play advocates in communities across the USA that had reached out to them to become part of their tour through a series of workshops and events. What they didn't know was how great that adventure would be, how many wonderful people they would meet along the way, and what a huge impact the tour would have, both on communities and themselves. This book provides an overview of the 2014 Pop-Up Adventure Play tour, detailing images, interviews and anecdotes, inviting the reader along for the ride. There is also the inclusion of many resources to help you on your own journey, allowing you to build your community around play-and maybe even enabling you to start an adventure playground of your own."
The New Adventure Playground Movement: How Communities across the USA are Returning Risk and Freedom to Childhood (modeled helpfully by me below) will be signed by either Morgan or myself (or if you're lucky, both of us!) and will be lovingly packaged and sent to you. The price will include postage and packaging and all the profits will go back into Pop-Up Adventure Play to support more child-directed play communities all over the world.

Please select location:

We know that some of you have found it difficult to get your hands on our book so we've tried to make it easier. By selling our book directly to you, we hope that we will be able to reach out to more people, and make the world an even more playful place! We're working on getting the book out in digital format too, so watch this space for more information on that!

Morgan and I are very excited to get this book out to you all. When you get your hands on one, take a selfie with it and post it on our facebook page - it'll be great to see you with it! Looking forward to your comments and feedback on our little publication.