Monday, 5 June 2017

Press Release: Pop-Up Adventure Play empowers play programmes across Canada ahead of 20th IPA Triennial World Conference


Pop-Up Adventure Play empowers play programmes across Canada ahead of 20th IPA Triennial World Conference

Pop-Up Adventure Play have confirmed workshops and hands-on practical sessions with organisations and play enthusiasts across eight Provinces of Canada.

Following the huge success of their 2014 US Tour and 2015 World Tour, UK-based charity Pop-Up Adventure Play are heading to Canada to support and inspire play enthusiasts and organisations countrywide. The team will be on the road from July 20th to September 19th inclusive, travelling east to west in one summer-long adventure!

The Pop-Ups Canada Tour 2017 will showcase inspiring play provision from around the world, providing a range of training, workshops, pop-up adventure playgrounds alongside screenings of ‘The Land’, a documentary of unique, raw footage from an adventure playground in Wales, UK.

UK-born Suzanna Law who is studying for a PhD in the field, co-founded the organisation to train and support communities everywhere to make room for child-directed play. "Children everywhere need time and space to play in their own way, but they are not getting enough of those opportunities," says Law. "We at Pop-Up Adventure Play want to support people and organisations everywhere to help broaden its understanding and its importance in a much wider context"

The tour currently has 10 confirmed locations, commencing in Halifax NS, before passing through Montreal QC, then onto London ON, Toronto ON, Winnipeg MB, Edmonton AB, Vancouver BC, and concluding in Calgary AB for the IPA Triennial world conference, which will host some of world’s leading academics and thinkers of children’s play.

Pop-Up Adventure Play have been advocating for children's play since 2010 through the support, kindness  and generosity of likeminded individuals, organisations and the wider community. In a bid to reach out to some of the hard-to-reach and low-income communities across Canada, the team have launched their crowdfunder page where they aim to raise £5000 in 30 days to bring isolated advocates together. 

Press release PDF available here.

Pop-Up Adventure Play is a UK registered charity #1148987
For more information, please contact Suzanna Law, Co-Founder and Head of Communications using

Friday, 2 June 2017

Geronimo 2017

By Zan

After much organising and some epic geometrical loose parts stuffing into our cars, Pop-Ups Andy and I found ourselves in the middle of a field and under a giant tent. This would be the site of our 3-day pop-up adventure playground at the Geronimo Festival, this year held at Arley Hall, Cheshire. With our two trusty recruits, Joanne and David, we emptied our cars, staged some boxes and were away! Here are some photos of our playful long weekend:

Some tiny people came to type on the computer, and stayed for a long time to explore our loose parts.

Some bigger people made some big things. Sometimes we don't know what these things are, but it is the process that matters.

The biggest people did some playing too - this is a giraffe that was almost as tall as the tent! The children participated, but even the adults admitted that this was their giraffe and not the kid's.

This little player spent ages in this box, putting things here and there and everywhere, dressed perfectly for the occasion.

"This is a car and I am driving". Of course it is, and for a good few minutes too.

This is a set of brother, sister robots. Their parents helped a little bit but this was their idea. They may have spent a long long time dressed like this.

This is our box wall created at the end of the festival for children to run into and push over. It was quite a hit, with the children and the adults. It's not often you get invited into destruction.

This our tape ball, so big that you could sit on it. It just goes to show that from waste things you can still make play things!

These brothers were hilarious. They were clearly tired, but really wanted to keep on playing, so they just bashed every box they could find into pulp. It must have been their way of signifying the end of the festival - their "end game" as it were. And then red one went home as a robot.

I'll admit that when I agreed to host a Pop-Up at a children's festival - a festival that had circus people, sheep shearers, harp players and jousters - that we would lose out and noone would come to our tent to play. It seems like I had nothing to worry about. The conversations that we overheard between parent and child always seemed to be some sort of negotiation based loosely around the fact that the children didn't want to go anywhere else. It was wonderful to know that child-led play was so appealing that our tent was always busy and buzzing with activity. There were so many great moments, and so many glorious opportunities for children to assert their right to play that on a few occasions, I felt a little emotional. I'm really glad we went to Geronimo, and I hope that I'll get to pop-up there again in the future.

To see more photos from Geronimo, check out the facebook photos here. To follow the adventures of Pop-Ups Zan, visit her personal blog. To visit our website, please visit

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Our First Award...... With gratitude

By Andy

Sadly I wasn't able to attend the National Playwork Conference this year having only just arrived back home from our Playwork Campference in Los Angeles. Luckily there was a live stream available allowing me to watch the awards whilst unpacking my rucksack at home. As I eagerly sat watching, my phone tentatively in my hand ready to message the team, there was a clash of glasses, a wobble of the screen and the camera ended up on the floor. There was a mad scramble to stabilize the stream with familiar faces and voices flashing on and off the screen. Hilarious! It was an amazing feeling knowing that, even though I wasn't there, I was one of them.

The winner was announced.... Pop-Up Adventure Play - Playwork in Other Contexts Award. Wow! I couldn't believe it. There were some fantastic organisations in the run for the award which made this announcement so overwhelming! Ali Wood accepted the award on our behalf as one of our free-lance tutors. Ali said some really nice words on our behalf and about us too, with a great response from the crowd, which was really heartwarming.

I quickly typed out a message to the team who were, at the time, commuting to a workshop in Evanston, Illinois providing the keynote address to the Illinois Youth Services Institute on the amazing benefits of play. Playwork in Other Contexts, in action!

I had message back from the team. They had just pulled up on the banks of Lake Michigan and celebrated with a happy dance in the sun. Gathering together pebbles from the beach, Morgan and Zan instantly thanked the world for their support with a rocky thank you.

Advocating for children's play can be a lonely battle and at Pop-Up we have long been seeking to spread the Playwork message to the loneliest parts of the world. This award means a lot to us. For us it provides the supportive encouragement that our efforts are worthwhile, but it also reminds us that however hard and lonely it is out there, the playwork family is just a wobbly video feed away.

Thank you.

To follow our daily adventures, join us over on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. To get in touch with us, we are available by email here, or you can leave us a message on our website

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Popping Up in Cleveland - Guest writer

By Mischelle Brown

Mischelle reached out to us in 2016, telling us of her passions for play and in 2017, we met her at the Playwork Campference! It was wonderful to hear her perspective and learn of her passion. She has big plans for her community, and some big adventures ahead! Here are some of her thoughts:

What started out as a weekend exploration at the first ever Playwork Campference. February 16-19, 2017, on how to build my own one acre adventure playground by myself turned into life lessons on the importance of community, starting small and diversity. Landing in Val Verde, California I would meet some of the worlds greatest playworkers, play advocates, enthusiasts and researchers to ever commune in the United States. Boy what a sight to behold!

The nuggets of wisdom from the veterans of play I received straight away were build an adventure play community, start with small one day pop-up play schemes or play spaces, add additional community partners like museums, schools, non profits or recreation departments to co-create with and like ideas.

My big question was where's all the play people of color? How come I'm the only one here? The veterans of play exclaimed, “Exactly”?! On that day one I decided going forward I'd have to do my Mahatma Ghandi thing and “be the change I wanted to see in the world” to bring adventure play equity to black and brown kids.

So with that on March 27, 2017 my nonprofit, Humans2nature inc., together with the city of Cleveland’s Division of Recreation’s 18 recreation centers, Cleveland State University, Home Depot and Cultured Bazaar 60 black and brown babies played in/on/around their first ever and the city of Cleveland’s first ever “loose parts” pop-up adventure playground on the grounds of Camp George Forbes.

Water Experiment pond – Camp George Forbes, Cleveland, Ohio

Using tools - Camp Georges Forbes, Cleveland, Ohio

Fishing Kids with handcrafted fishing tools

The Playwork Campference was the confirmation that my purpose, adventure play for life, is real and that there is world is full of other players committed to the motto, "play is for everyone". Thank you, Playwork Campference!

To host your own pop-up adventure playground, register with us here for some free resources. To read more about the Campference, check out these three blogposts. To follow the activities of us at Pop-Up Adventure Play, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter and check out our website

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Playworker's Junkyard

By Zan

Sitting in my seat next to Andy, I felt really excited. I hadn't thought about the set for Junkyard the Musical and now that I was looking at the silhouette of it on the stage before the show. It had real pallets, and barrels, and planks and rope... everything you'd find on a real adventure playground. Whatever would happen in the next 2 hours wouldn't matter too much - it was already awesome.

Before the show - we were sat front and center and I was so pleased!

As the stage went dark and we journeyed with the characters through the ups and downs of adventure playground development, I was really swept up in the energy of the whole thing. Everything was done simply but effectively with junk materials or loose parts - even some of the instruments used to accompany the sometimes moving, sometimes hilarious songs were also made out of junk! I loved particularly that characters weren't too precious about the set, but at the same time loved it, just like the children at any AP would be too. With there being multi-level movable platforms, the space was always filled with interest throughout the show, and used very thoughtfully too for musical numbers and emotive scenes.

I was particularly amused to find that they had managed to work a whole lot of adventure playground history into this musical, doing a little bit of gentle AP promo for the field. I wondered aloud to Andy half way through the show if the actors knew what the term "playworker" was. It wasn't mentioned in the show - being set in the 70s, the term wasn't properly used yet - but I wonder how much they would have translated some of these thoughts for the audience of today. I was really glad to hear the parting thoughts from the cast which spoke loudly of adventure playgrounds in the UK - even a nod to Plas Madoc, the closest AP to the theatre - and I was buoyed by the enthusiasm they had brought to the auditorium. There was a palpable feeling of possibility, and the last time I felt that was when I was sat under a canopy of advertisements in the middle of California.

I truly enjoyed Junkyard to the very core of my playworker being. There was enough humour in there to keep it light, but all the emotions necessary for folks to understand just how serious adventure playgrounds are with a good sprinkling of song. Now we just need everyone everywhere to watch this show and then visit an adventure playground in action. Hoorah for Junkyard!

To find out more about Pop-Ups Zan, visit her personal blog here. If you'd like to see more of what Team Pop-Up Adventure Play in general, check out Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Reflections from the Playwork Campference: Part 3

By Zan

The five of us sat smiling at one another as we reaffirmed for the umptheenth time that organising our first ever conference would be a fabulous idea. It was a year before the proposed date and our many play connections combined with our passion for play could only means that this was going to be an amazing event. Shortly after we coined the phrase "Playwork Campference" (all credit to Jeremiah!) I had a rush of affection for the other four organisers: this would be our Campference, and we were going to do the best job we possibly could.

And here are the Campference organisers (left to right):
Suzanna Law, Andy Hinchcliffe, Morgan Leichter-Saxby, Erica Larsen-Dockray and Jeremiah Dockray. Team Pop-Up Adventure Play meets Team Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play!

Having had email correspondence with at least 90% of the folks who attended our Campference, welcoming everyone on the first day felt simply like I was greeting a whole bunch of friends. Every warm hug that gave was reciprocated in earnest, and felt like a genuine moment of connection rather than the frivolous greeting we often give to people without much meaning. Though I had never personally met at least 50 of the 90 people who came to our Campference, I definitely felt like I was welcoming them home - to both an amazing adventure play space, and to the community of play advocates who were just as eager to connect.

The rest of the Campference seems like joyous blur: there was fireside play where the children discovered and came to respect the fire pit; there was the meeting of minds and collision of amazing ideas; there was torrential rainfall and people dancing in rivers where there were once streets; there were revelations, and stories of transformation, discovery and joy; there was a palpable feeling of hope and passion within our camp site that no amount of literal stormy weather could shake. 

At the end of the Campference, I stood still for a moment to take in some of my own feelings. This may have started up as a conference - a convergence of 5 minds - eventually became was the meeting of 90 minds, all open and willing to experience more about the flexibility of playwork. I have never met a group of people who were so willing to roll with the changes that we had to make throughout the Campference because of adverse weather.  

This Campference may have started with just 5 of us, but by the end, we could feel a shift towards all the folks who were present. It was an event that all 90 of us could take ownership of. It was our Campference, and I must thank every single person who came, and everyone who helped because these were the people who made it what it was.

Here we all are - our group photo at our Playwork Campference.

This is the final reflective piece about the Playwork Campference from Team Pop-Ups - part 1 and part 2 can be found here. Follow our adventures on facebook and twitter, and check out our website for more

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Reflections from the Playwork Campference: Part 2

By Andy

I can't quite believe that it's been over a week already since the Playwork Campference came to an end! What an amazing whirlwind it has been. As I get ready to depart the US and head back to Europe, I spent a moment to reflect on my experiences of our maiden conference voyage.

It's been more than a year since the discussions about the Campference began. I remember the excitement and enthusiasm about the schedule, workshops, food and the people and stories it would gather.

Despite the 'touch' of bad weather, the schedule and workshops prevailed. The food was amazing and the people with their stories glued the whole thing together.

When the rain came down, the children played.

Our amazing chef, Megan Dickerson, cooking "fire-jacks" (fire-top flap-jacks) for breakfast!

I was surrounded by such a diverse group of wonderful and knowledgeable people. Friends I'd know for years, Colleagues I'd only ever met on Skype, amazing and inspirational people I had met on my travels with Pop-Up Adventure Play and my University professor, all mixed in with a group of passionate play advocates from around the globe.

The conversation and stories throughout the weekend were exhilarating, motivating and inspirational. They fueled me to take this contagious passion back across the Atlantic with an aim of unpacking it and sharing it in a way that could help to re-ignite the increasingly suffering playwork profession in the UK.

The Campference achieved many things for me, both personally and professionally. The main point I took from it was that dwelling on the past and the 'good old days' are great but unproductive. It's time to accept that Playwork in the 21st century is a different beast, but the need is still the there, if not greater. We need to step off the playwork soap box and move forward - If we don't, who will?

If anybody wants to get involved in this discussion, throw some thoughts our way!

This is part 2 of 3 reflective pieces from Team Pop-Up Adventure Play about the Playwork Campference 2017 - part 1 is available here. If you want to find out more about us, check out our Facebook, Twitter and website

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Reflections from the Playwork Campference: Part 1

By Morgan

So, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we hosted a Campference with Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play in Val Verde, CA.

It went pretty well.

Welcoming folks at the Pacific Oak.

Children played as we talked about playwork.

Learning about ropes and knots.

Playwork professionals, students and enthusiasts came from all over to swap stories, learn from one another, and spend time on a beautiful new adventure playground site. Our fondest hope was that people would make new friends, find mentors, and confess some of their own fears or longings.

It seems like that part was a success.
“So many takeaways, but while I process those, I will just share 3 words that were repeated roughly 642 times: Fun, Freedom, Flexibility.”~ Kelsey Langley
Also not sure if you were paying attention at the time, but there was a *little* bit of a storm happening.  The worst storm in 22 years, dropping 5 inches overnight on our site and tents and carefully laid plans.  We sought refuge in a church, and then a school.  Content went ahead, if a little bit reshuffled.

Most gloriously, people rallied.  Across the whole four days, they transported baked potatoes in wheelbarrows, cut wood for the fire, raised tarps into the trees (and cut them down, when the wind gained strength).  Children scurried around the site, playing all day long.  Participants circled to discuss the politics of play and details of practice, breaking off into smaller groups to keep the conversation flowing.  People who feel isolated at home made community together, and for a short time we made a village.
"An incredible site, wonderful people....a bunch of weirdo's in the most magnificent felt like I was home."~ Justine Walsh
This is part 1 of 3 reflections about our Playwork Campference 2017. If you'd like to find out more about us, check out our facebook, twitter or visit

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Press Release: Local and International Adventure Play Organizations Holding Two Free and Exclusive Family Events in Castaic

By Andy

Team Pop-Up's have just arrived on the shores of California. It's the first time the three of us have been together, in-person in over 15 months. We are so excited to work on the final preparations for the first ever Playwork Campference in the USA! 

In addition to our extensive programme of talks and practical workshops we are also running two, free public events for children, families and interested individuals: a pop-up adventure playground and a film screening! The full press release for these events can be accessed here.

We are delighted to be part of this and hope to see many of you there! 

These events are part of our Playwork Campference. For more about what we do on a daily basis, check out our facebook and twitter, or visit our website

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A Workshop in Evanston, IL

By Zan

We are very pleased and excited to be hanging out very briefly with our friend and PDC student Yulia in Evanston. It's going to be a short stop where Pop-Ups Morgan and I will be presenting an interactive talk entitled "Let The Children Play: workshop on the amazing benefits of play". We happened to be in the area for a keynote in Springfield, IL so this was an wonderful opportunity to get together.

With thanks to Pop-Ups friends Buffalo Pop-Up Play for the original design of this poster, and to Yulia's friend Vladimir Kleiman for this lovely version.

If you are in the Evanston area and would like to join our workshop there, please check out this facebook event. We welcome anyone who has an interest in play and are pleased also to let you know that there will be childcare available.

It's so great to be meeting more of our Playworker Development Course students and also to take the opportunity to meet more folks around the world who are passionate about play. Before that though, we will focus on the Campference! More from us soon!

For more about Pop-Up Adventure Play, check out our facebook, twitter and our website

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Campference 2017: Free Film Screening

By Zan

Team Pop-Up Adventure Play and Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play are extremely excited to be having a free film screening as part of the Playwork Campference 2017. It will feature The Land documentary, about Plas Madoc Adventure Playground in Wrexham, Wales, and also Imagine Kolle 37, a short film set in an adventure playground in Berlin.

There will also be a great panel of people present at the screening for a Q&A session. We are so pleased to have Prof. Fraser Brown - the world's only Professor of Playwork - sit on this panel, as well as directors Erin Davis and Michele Meek of each respective adventure playground film. We have also invited Luke Sutton, one of the playworkers featured in The Land, to sit on our panel.

This event is free and open to public, hosted by local school SCVi. We are most grateful for their help in making this possible. We hope to see every one there!

If you have any questions about this event, please email If you'd like to find out more about the Campference, please check out this page