After an epic 12-year playwork journey from an unsure 17-year-old volunteer, I embarked on different roles. I transitioned from a front-line playworker to a Children’s Centre Manager in the UK. Now, I’m starting a new adventure with Pop-Up Adventure Play alongside – Suzanna and Morgan.

My journey with Pop-Ups began several years ago as a director. I graduated from Leeds Beckett University with Suzanna in 2012. In my role, I supported the team on various projects, including the 2014 US Tour and the 2015 World Tour. These experiences were enriching and memorable.

Two weeks into my new role, I already experienced a whirlwind adventure. Landing in Los Angeles, I joined forces with Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play. This group advocates for free-play for children and adults. They deliver pop-up adventure playgrounds to groups, schools, and organisations around LA County. Additionally, they established Eureka Villa, the first permanent adventure playground in Los Angeles. 

SCVAP was in the running to win $100,000 through the LA2050 Challenge. This initiative aimed to ‘Make LA the Best Place to Play’. If successful, SCVAP would expand its Pop-Up Playground programme throughout LA County for a year, for free. This grant would also help open Eureka Villa to the public. This project was crucial for children and families who would benefit from it directly and indirectly.

Embracing Adventure: A New Chapter Begins

This project held immense significance not only for the USA and the international Playwork community but also for Pop-Up Adventure Play and SCVAP. However, the most crucial beneficiaries of this remarkable initiative are the children, young people, and their families, who will directly and indirectly benefit from it. For me, this is such an amazing position to be in, at such a crucial time.

Participating in this project was an amazing opportunity. Campaigning for it, getting my hands dirty and being part of its journey are truly tremendous experiences. Access to rich-play opportunities like this space supports children’s social, emotional, and physical development. It fosters unrestricted interaction in a space that encourages freedom and choice.

I was pleased to be starting with Pop-Up Adventure Play as they team up with SCVAP to host the first playwork-focused conference in the USA.

The camping conference brought international experts and play advocates together in an arena designed to share experiences, encourage debate and provide an opportunity for some self-reflection. The conference was held over four days with practical skills-based workshops and conversation in the form of a Playwork Campference.

The Campference included keynote presentations from:

  • Prof. Fraser Brown, author of leading Playwork publications – Foundations of Playwork;
  • Playwork: Theory and Practice,
  • A screening of The Land documentary, incorporating an exclusive Q&A Panel consisting of Erin Davis, film director of The Land, Luke Sutton, former Playworker from The Land supported by Prof. Fraser Brown and Morgan Leichter-Saxby – A line-up that was not to be missed!
Campference 2017
The Campference took place between 16th to 19th February 2017.

It’s really great to officially be part of the Pop-Up team.

Find out more about Eureka Villa.To follow more of the adventures of Pop-Up Adventure Play, you can also check out our Facebook page.

By Pop-Ups Andy