Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Playwork Awakening - Embracing 2017

By Pop-Ups Andy

As I headed down the jet-bridge onto the plane, something hit me. Not physically, but emotionally. I had to take a moment to check-in with myself and regroup my thoughts. Through a deductive soliloquy of 'been there, done that' I ruled out nerves, new places and the task ahead as potential reasons. So what was the problem?

I never got to the root of the issue at the time, but now, as the same scenario looms in reverse, ten weeks later, a similar feeling is brewing. I'd re-confirmed that I still love travelling, I still love LA, SCV Adventure Play are awesome and Playwork is still, by far the best job in the world… so what then?

Then it hit me. Yes, of course! Risk. I’ve spent half my life talking and advocating about its necessity, but then struggle to recognise it when it's right there under my nose.

Maybe it wasn't the fear of what was ahead, but more what I was leaving behind? Prior to heading out to California I had recently undergone a significant change in my working circumstances. I had just jumped out from the comfort and safety of a fixed-site, salary and security and was parachuted into a situation where I had the permission to follow my own agenda, to adapt and respond accordingly, to be able to push myself into slightly uncomfortable situations, but under my own direction and control.

My time in California was fast-paced, eye-opening and taught me a lot. I presented at the NAEYC conference to over 100 professionals on incorporating the playwork approach into education. Together with SCVAP I ran Pop-Up Playgrounds with diverse groups of children and their families across LA County which were underpinned by a weekly session on Eureka Villa, where exciting things are unfolding and some real playwork magic is already  happening! As part of my work with SCV Adventure Play I was embroiled in the LA2050 campaign for a chance to win $100,000 to develop Eureka Villa. It was an exhausting but exciting period which created new friends and contacts from around the world. My final project in December was a spontaneous piece of work at a local charter-school which quickly snowballed into a possible research study and small-scale documentary, focusing on the impact of the Playwork within the US recess environment.

Anyway, to cut a long but very exciting story short: Following your own ideas and interests, in your own way and for your own reasons can be a really big deal, even for an adult. I took a risk and stepped outside my very safe and warm comfort zone, and it reminded me that my bubble was small and the need is big, that risks are scary, but fear is temporary and without sounding too much like an insert of 'Inspiration Daily', my most important reflection was reconfirming that playwork is my purpose.

So here's to 2017. Possibly the most volatile, unpredictable year in modern history. There is no time for comfort zones and inertia, it's time for advocacy and protest, to take risks and make change.

To find out more about what we get up to on a daily basis, check out our Facebook and Twitter. You can also keep an eye on this blog or visit our website

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Year of Playful Numbers

By Zan

This year has been a tough one for Pop-Ups Morgan and myself. We had set out to get our heads down and into our playwork PhDs but unexpected things happened and we both had to turn our focus onto our families. Nonetheless, we still have many things to celebrate this year.  It's amazing what change can be effected from the confines of your laptop!

10,000 facebook likes - the traffic on our facebook page has increased dramatically over the last few months, and the number of likes managed to double in a year! We are a little humbled by this following and want to thank you all for continuing to support our work.

2,000 twitter followers - although it's not nearly as large a following as our facebook crowd, we are still really pleased and excited to have amassed a lovely group of supports on our twitter. Thank you to those in the twittersphere!

200+ pop-up adventure playgrounds - we have been supporting independent organisers to host their own pop-up adventure playgrounds in 18 different countries. Together with the ones that we have helped to host, there have been at least 200 locations where we have popped up. This is super exciting for us - if you want to host one too, register here.

100% new Loose Parts Manual - we worked with Playground Ideas to produce The Loose Parts Manual which has been downloaded a gazillion times already. It's so very exciting to have such a reach and we are so very pleased to have had the opportunity to get all this playful information out there.

50% increase in staff - Morgan and I are so very pleased to be joined by Andy, officially making us an amazing little playwork crowd of three. In the short 3 months he's been with us, he's already finished his first project and we have loads more adventures planned for the future.

8 new guest written blogposts - we're so pleased to have 8 of our independent organisers write about their first pop-up. If you want to check them out, we have collected all our guest blog posts here for you to enjoy.

1 new addition to our board of directors - our behind-the-scenes support team has had a little change and now Ricky Tsang and Michelle Jones is joined by Amanda Richardson. We are super excited to have this small group of people around us and look forward to another fabulous Pop-Up year.

As the year draws to a close we reflect on another fantastic Pop-Up year. It wasn't quite so travel-filled as 2015, but it has been adventurous nonetheless. We want to thank everyone for their support and hope that you have a 2017 that's filled with your own amazing adventures and self-directed play!

Follow our adventures on facebook and twitter, or just keep checking back to this blog and our website

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Next Big Adventure: Pop-Ups Canada Tour 2017

By Zan

I can remember standing in the sun with my friend on a quiet beach in Vancouver, surrounded by purple sea shells and thinking to myself, "If I ever get the opportunity, I'd like to come back and spend more time in a country with purple shells."

It's been eight years since I thought about that day, but I think it's finally happening. Much like when we set up the USA tour in 2014, and the World tour in 2015, our friends in Canada are calling to us too. They are asking for us to visit them, to talk to them about play, and to connect them with playwork, a UK-based field dedicated to the study and support of children's play.

I am pleased today to be telling you about our next big adventure. Our Playwork Campference will be the one of the highlights of 2017, but standing in the spotlight alongside it is our next roadtrip: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'd like to announce the The Pop-Ups Canada Tour 2017!

Yes, Team Pop-Ups will be driving across Canada in the Summer of 2017 running workshops and play events. If all goes well, we will be starting on the east coast in Halifax, and we will be travelling west and finish at the Calgary IPA Conference in mid September.

We are also very excited to announce that our midway stop has been confirmed and we will be hanging out with Team Manitoba Nature Summit in Manitoba in August. We will be delivering a workshop and a pop-up adventure playground while we are there - stay tuned for more information about this little collaboration, and more!

Are you based in Canada and would like us to come and run a workshop and play event? Get in touch with me using and let's start talking about how you can be part of our 2017 Pop-Ups Canadian Tour!

Purple shell beach - I'm hoping to come and see you again!

To find out about our work, get in touch with us! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! And of course there's always our website too -

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.