HOUSTON, TX: On a three-acre site in West Houston, children ages 6 to 13, many with learning differences and communication delays, have constructed a three-acre homemade playground of their dreams. This past year marked a decade of growth and change for the site. Founded in 2008, it was recently filmed by Alliance for Childhood for their exemplary practices.

“Even people who already know about adventure playgrounds often don’t know that Houston has one of the very best in the world,” says Morgan Leichter-Saxby of Pop-Up Adventure Play, a non-for-profit that provides training in Playwork practice. “We couldn’t be happier to be partnering with Jill Wood and The Parish School to deliver this totally unique event.”

Second Playwork Campference in Houston

The importance of the Second Playwork Campference

Since WW2, thousands of adventure playgrounds have provided opportunities for children’s self-directed play. This is so in the United Kingdom, Japan and Europe: in short, providing children with space and tools. Many sites even include fire.

Until recently, very few pop ups have been operational in North America. But this model has recently become popular with sites springing up in New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston. However, public reporting has frequently missed the question of Playwork, or the professional work of staffing these sites safely.

“Playwork is special” says Jill Wood, one of the two keynote speakers. “It’s what makes adventure playgrounds function even more safely than other kinds of playgrounds”. Playwork can be studied at the university level in the UK. It’s an explicitly non-educational approach that emphasises risk-benefit assessment and low-interventionist support methods. Studies have evidenced its strong therapeutic potential. However, no formal Playwork professional training programs currently exist in North America.

Filling a gap

Pop-Up Adventure Play has been stepping into that gap. By providing online training and the first Playwork Campference in 2017, which attracts 90 play advocates from 7 countries. Participant feedback stated that “…campference was a completely unforgettable experience. Unlike other conferences where it is just info after info I felt able to really think and reflect and resonate on what I was learning.” The first event was so well received that preparations for the second Playwork Campference are well underway, to happen on 15th-18th February 2019.

“Playwork is in the limelight right now,” says Suzanna Law of Pop-Up Adventure Play. “People in schools and parks and hospitals… we want to bring everyone together to talk about making a real change…. this is the only place to get it right now.” Ali Wood, playwork expert from the UK and co-author of Reflective Playwork: For All Who Work with Children, will be providing a final keynote on 18th February. A gathering on Saturday, 16th February, will be open to the public who are also welcome to tour the event’s art exhibition, entitled Reflections.

Campference participants will be camping on the adventure playground at The Parish School for the 4-day, 3 night event, a space that consists of three acres of grassland covered by child-made structures. They’ll have full access to the site along with bonfires, Texas bbq, and lively discussions around children’s play.

Registration Information and Contact Information

To register to please use this link here. The early bird rate of $395 USD (for a camping spot) and $325 USD (for a non-camping spot) will be ending on 31st October 2018. To discuss financial assistance options or if you have any further questions, please contact