By Morgan

We started hosting pop-up adventure playgrounds in 2010, and since then they’ve been held in Australia, Bogota, Cairo, New York and in more than 14 countries all around the world, by Pop-Ups staff and by independent organizers.  The response to these events and photographs has inspired us beyond measure. We are proud to help connect organizers and play advocates with new friends – is that you, too?

Pop Up Adventure Playground in Lakeville, Massachusetts, USA
Pop-Up Adventure Playground in Lakeville, MA.

We’re often told that these images, of children playing in cardboard boxes, or happily climbing a tree, look very familiar to people. They might bring up memories from their own childhoods, or a time when children were freer to play outside. They are familiar because play is written on our bones, it’s in our personal and cultural DNA. Sometimes people see pictures of events and think, this can’t be so hard!  It’s a bunch of cardboard boxes and kids, I can do that! That’s wonderful to hear – we encourage every play advocate to start small, start local, and help make positive changes in the neighbourhoods where they live.

So, if it’s true that play can be easy, accessible, familiar – why not pause first to register a pop-up adventure playground?

Pop Up Adventure playground in Manchester, UK
Pop-Up Adventure Playground in Manchester, UK.

Here are 10 reasons why we believe that registering is the best place to start!

They’re all rooted in the basic idea that a pop-up adventure playground isn’t the same thing as play, but is a carefully designed form of provision. Pop-up adventure playgrounds help make play possible for children and adults, and as such organizers need specific kinds of support, training and information to be most effective. We are dedicated to offering these services to as many people as possible.

1.  It’s free

You can make your event an ‘official’ pop-up adventure playground for exactly $0.00. We provide this service completely free, because we believe that play is a fundamental right for everyone, and want to help people connect around play.

2.  We’re part of a heritage

We chose to name these events ‘pop-up adventure playground’ to emphasize the history and philosophy behind them. They draw explicitly on traditional adventure playgrounds and playwork theory – when you register, and use the phrase ‘pop-up adventure playground’, it shows that you want to be rooted in that tradition as well.

3.  It’s best practice

If you’re interested in starting to make change locally for play, you’ll need to build relationships with partners, share information and credit for ideas, and work together with a variety of individuals and institutions. Partnering with us to deliver pop-up adventure playgrounds is a great place to begin, and will help make your event the best it can be, because we also provide…

4.  Your resource pack

You know the questions you have, about liability and materials and talking with parents? Those questions that visitors might have, about playwork philosophy and what, exactly, this event is all about? You’re not the first! In fact, we’ve gathered a bunch of helpful materials to guide you through the process of gathering materials, preparing staff, reaching out to families and local businesses.

And if that’s not enough, we also provide…

5.  Personalized support

Pop-up adventure playgrounds can be more complicated than one might think. We’ve spent years hosting these events in schools, parks, museums, galleries and more all around the world, and would love to offer support and talk you through the specifics of your setting and neighbourhood over Skype.

6.  Connection to others

Many play advocates say they feel alone or isolated. We’ve found that pop-up adventure playgrounds can be a great way of building community, attracting like-minded people and building new connections. But starting out can be frightening, and organizers ask for a lot of trust from parks departments and other institutions. Local partners are often comforted to know that you have the support of an umbrella organization, and that there is extensive theory and planning behind these spontaneous, messy, glorious play events! We can help provide credibility and context.

7. Additional promotion

We’ll link to your Facebook page, promote your events through our networks, and feature you on our blog. This is a great way to celebrate your successes, and broaden your reach!

8. It helps us to help you

We ask for a small amount of information when you register, always and only designed to help us track these events and to connect new organizers with one another. Wouldn’t you like a new friend who’s doing pop-up adventure playgrounds in Colombia, Costa Rica, or Australia?

9.  Additional information

Pop-up adventure playgrounds are designed to bring new play opportunities to public space and give organizers a tiny taste of playwork. Playwork is a decades-old approach to working with children, with its own distinct philosophy and methods. Although you might have provided children with similar materials as part of your parenting or educational practice, playwork is entirely distinct and those subtle differences matter.

When you register, we help you ground your event in playwork practice – this will help you engage with children and parents more effectively, and further your own personal and professional development.

10.  Did we mention it’s free?

There are lots of different ways to support children’s play, and you should find the one that suits you best. You can name your event anything you like, but if you’re going to call it a ‘pop-up adventure playground’, please register with us first.  It might be the easiest decision you make today!

Costa Rica example
Pop-Up Adventure Playground in Costa Rica.
To register, fill in our simple online form. Click on the following link to access Morgan’s personal blog and see where your Pop-Up will be promoted. Come and visit our Facebook page!