We’ve come to the end of the year and it’s been a little more of a pensive year than usual. I’d like to reflect on the year for myself, and share a little about what’s been going on.

Meeting Our Own Needs

Pop-Up Adventure Play has spent the last 12 years working to meet the needs of play advocates around the world. In 2022 Morgan and I decided that this would be the year that we would also figure out the needs of Pop-Up Adventure Play. So as the world began lifting most COVID restrictions, Morgan and I chose not to travel so much. Instead, we joined the Actuator program at Black River Innovation Campus (BRIC) and spent a lot of the time asking ourselves challenging organisational questions, and considering the next moves for Pop-Up Adventure Play. Although these questions have hurt my brain in various ways throughout the year, it’s been quite a rewarding process. Tackling these questions with Morgan makes me feel so blessed to be doing all of this with a wonderful work wife. 

Playwork Virtual Campference 2022

We haven’t been hiding for the whole of this year – we also hosted Playwork Virtual Campference 2022! We were so pleased that 140 playwork enthusiasts speaking 15 different languages joined our event from 16 countries. Chris and the team at BRIC were our co-hosts and managed all the technology, and even gave Morgan and I the space to sit side by side and host this event together – we couldn’t imagine a better, playful co-host!

Keynotes for our virtual conference were invited to speak in their preferred languages. We had the pleasure of hearing Aby Chau speak about her work with Playright in troubling times in Hong Kong in Cantonese, Zeynep Eda GÜLTEKİN spoke in Turkish about her work with the Istanbul municipality and the impact it has had on her and her parenting, and finally Sara Mejía Parrado talked to us in Spanish about a recent pop-up adventure playground she hosted in Costa Rica

We were able to do simultaneous translation from English into 4 languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish and Cantonese) and were able to record everything! This is going to be really helpful as we continually strive to make playwork more accessible to people across the world. With 50% of the participants joining the Campference through financial assistance, we also want to reaffirm our commitment to the playwork community by making our events as accessible as possible: we want everyone to know how to use the playwork approach in supporting children and their play.

Funding Joy

Amidst the busyness of Campference, we forgot to tell everyone that we got a big grant this year! We’re super pleased to announce that we got a $19,000 USD grant to do a mental health and play project in Vermont, led by Morgan! Along with the $2,800 USD grant that Morgan also got in June this year, we’re super excited to say that this has been our biggest funding year so far! Morgan is on a roll and I can’t wait to support her as we explore the grant funding world in 2023.

A Supportive Community

We have met so many lovely people in 2022, in beautiful moments that are hard to describe and warming to the heart. You wonderful people are so very passionate about children’s play! It’s so very humbling to see such commitment to something that is difficult for the majority of society to understand. Morgan and I want to thank each and every one of you for reaching out to us, for trusting us with your stories, and for letting us sit with you and your thoughts. 

Thank you too for allowing us to tell us our stories, for trusting us to connect you with one another, and for helping us to build a community in playwork in multiple languages and multiple platforms. We don’t take this for granted because we know play advocacy is hard, and building trust can be a vulnerable process.

Goodbye 2022

So, I finally got COVID. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later but as I sit in a brain fog of tastelessness (yep, I can’t taste or smell anything!) I’m grateful that this year is over. We can start afresh with new plans and hopefully new senses that can taste and relish the adventures ahead! I can’t wait to go on some new adventures with Morgan, and meet more of you lovely play advocates out there!

By Pop-Ups Zan