Every adventure playground is unique. There are definitely trends across them – longtime fans will recognize patterns of handmade wooden constructions, enthusiastically painted. More mud than grass. Weird trash, emerging from the landscape. Often a fringe of tall grasses or overgrown greenery, attraction wildlife and worrying the neighbors. But one important indicator of quality is a particular feeling of ‘otherness’. The very best APs feel like no other place on earth.

Playwork Collective grows in the US

The Playwork Collective grew in the US with the help of Pop-Up Adventure Play since 2010. The movement in the US deeply relied on the work done in the UK, particularly through texts like the Playwork Primer, written by Penny Wilson from East London and funded by the US-based Alliance for Childhood. Both Suzanna and I had UK training, and Suzanna is still based in the UK. These roots ran deep, which was why we brought Brits over to the Playwork Campference (including Prof. Fraser Brown, Ali Wood, Simon Rix, Chris Martin, Laura Walsh just to name a few).

The US national scene was significantly different during our 2014 tour, and we were humbled by the innovative and deliberate practices we saw emerging in the country. We were honored to work with so many people who hosted pop-ups, started sites, and showed up every day to support children’s play. Now, we are excited to announce a new way of helping that movement flourish.

The Playwork Collective was a new gathering of founding senior playworkers from our favorite adventure playgrounds across the country. Together, we shared resources to help each develop as a unique site of best practice and a hub for playwork training. More broadly, we aimed to gather stories and resources from amazing practitioners and share that information widely to enrich and grow this incredible approach and community.

Other collaborations

You may know member sites from the Prioritizing Play Conference 2018, media, TV and print publicity, or from Campferences 2017 and 2019. We had worked with these folks for years, helping to bring them together with one another and great playworkers and advocates such as Alex Cote, who also joined us. They included:

  • Jill Wood of Adventure Play at The Parish School in Houston, Texas; and also of Bayou City Play based in Houston too.
  • Yoni Kallai of The Yard on Governors Island, New York hosted by play:ground.
  • Kelsey Langley of KOOP Adventure Play in Champaign, Illinois.
  • Erica and Jeremiah Dockray of Eureka Villa Adventure Playground in Santa Clarita, California.

At Pop-Up Adventure Play, we supported playworkers by listening to what they needed and wanted, as well as the opportunities they identified for transformative practice in their communities. More than ever, site seniors told us they needed coordinated efforts to hold the core of what made this approach unique – to share resources, staff, and best practice as it evolved. Together, we made many plans that COVID ultimately turned upside down! Many things looked different now, and we didn’t know what the future would bring. However, one thing remained the same – our desire to support every single playworker, student, and play advocate, regardless of where they were or what stage they were at in their journey. As we said a thousand times, no one could do this work alone.

Our first Collective event was on Friday with a live online panel discussing playworking online. We learned about one-to-one efforts, video play prompts, and an adventure playground on Minecraft.

Playworking Online Panel

The Playworking Online Panel took place on Friday, June 5th, at 8:30 pm GMT / 3:30 pm EST / 12:30 pm PDT. The room opened for mingling 15 minutes before the session began.

If you have questions but couldn’t make it, please email us so we can ask the experts! Sign up here and get the Zoom link, access to a recording available after, and be connected with the Collective. Whatever your current engagement with children or playwork, we want to hear from you about what resources you need to feel more supported and connected in this community.

playwork collective

By Pop-Ups Morgan