Where will you be, in February 2019?

I’ve been holed up for a long time, working on my PhD – or not working on it, which is perhaps even harder. It can be a serious and lonely endeavor, which is ironic when you’re talking about Playwork – best understood in levity and community.

Maybe that’s an irony that resonates with you, too?

That’s one (of many) reasons why I’m SO excited for the second-ever Campference next February in Houston, TX. The last Campference was an incredible time, rich with conversation and connection. I was lucky and grateful to reconnect with old friends from across the USA and the UK too. It felt even more magical to introduce them to one another, and rebuild bridges across generations of practice, over thousands of miles.

We are a group of people driven by passion, who care deeply about the children in our care and by our own curiosity. How does play work for children, and how can we best help when something has gone awry? What experiences have other playworkers had, what barriers have they met and what solutions have they found?  How do we get in our own way, and how can we improve?  At the last Campference, participants from all over the world gathered to swap stories, to laugh and cry together, share ideas and make new friends.

The next one will be at the Parish School, with participants camping out on the adventure playground itself. This is one of our favorite sites in the world, one that is established and creative, utterly saturated with children’s play. The founding Head of AP, Jill Wood, is one of the finest playworkers I have ever met.  Her nuanced and rigorous practice has revolutionized my understanding of inclusive playwork.  Since she hasn’t (yet) published much, you have to learn from her in person!

Oh, and we’ll be bringing Ali Wood there, too. You know, the co-author of Reflective Playwork, the landmark text that changed our field forever?  What more could you need to know?

The Campference team has been busily meeting for months, chatting over the Leadership Intensive, our financial aid offer, scheduling questions – and, of course, the food! There’s even a tiny bit of time left before Early Bird expires.

We’d love to see you there.


What happens when we prioritize play?

This morning, I spoke with someone who said she’d been following my blog ‘for years’.  I started this way back in 2009, and for a long time it was a place to deposit the stories I carried home from play sessions – those moments which captivated or haunted me.  It’s been a document of my shift from ranging work to long-distance support, and a way for me to process attempts to prioritize play in my own life as well as those of children.

The same questions drive me as always.  What is play?  How does can look and feel?  What does it mean, to make play your first and guiding priority?

That’s why I couldn’t be happier to announce that Pop-Ups is partnering with KOOP for an upcoming conference on EXACTLY THAT.


I’ll be one Keynote, followed by (oh my goodness) Peter Gray!

We’re enormous fans of Kelsey and Naomi, and VERY pleased to help offer information on adventurous play and Playwork across the Mid West.  There’s still time to book your spot at the Early Bird rate, and to help spread the word about this event!

Register here

Press release

Bounding into the cold and bright

I love this little patch in between holidays, when the nights are long and the world seems quiet.  Freezing rain encased everything in a thick clear candy shell, and gave the thick powder snow a crust like creme brûlée.


It’s a good time for reflecting and planning, and if you can do that while eating mashed potato all the better!  In the next year, I won’t be taking any long-term residencies because it’s time for me to live in Vermont instead.  However, I couldn’t give up traveling completely!

What’s your plan for summer staff training?

As Pop-Ups, we’ve done keynotes and workshops with educators, parks staff, librarians and community center volunteers.  I’m now taking expressions of interest for two mini-tours which you could be a part of.  Are you in:

MA or CT (late March/early April)

OH, IN, IL or Upstate NY (late April/May)

Workshops, film screenings, play audits and public events – there are so many ways to welcome more play in your setting and community!

Sessions are always bespoke, and common themes include:

– Incorporating opportunities for risk incrementally

– The history and future of adventure playgrounds

– Working with parents and the public

Whatever your plans, I hope that you have a marvelous year to come, and that you tell me all about it.