Thursday, 17 May 2012

My Spirit 2012

The first time I went to a Spirit of Adventure Play Conference was in 2009 and I was brand new to the field. I was a playranger, working with a company called Children's Links, out to learn more about the world of play. I'm not going to lie, last time I went, I learnt things, but I didn't grow.

Since then, I worked hard at being a playranger and then moved on to become a playwork student at Leeds Met under the first professor of play in the UK, and have had huge involvement with Pop-Up Adventure Play, so before the conference, I had felt that this time, my status had changed.

So what were my thoughts about the conference? On my long train journey home from Cardiff, I managed these reflective thoughts on my phone:
For the first time ever, I have met the people that I'd only seen printed in my textbooks. It was a surreal experience, giving me a combination of that starstuck wide-eyed look with the surprised can't-quite-believe-this-is-happening face. Well, that's what I think happened anyway. Fraser said I played it cool. As it is with most things just printed on paper, I'd spent time imagining what the authors of my papers looked like and I made have made a few errors when imagining their faces. Turns out that Jess Milne is a man, and Ali Wood is a lovely lady. Also turns out that many older male playworkers have pretty impressive beards and some don't like shoes. I'm not sure what I was expecting before Morgan introduced me to the entirety of my bibiliography list, but I think I've come out the other side keener, wiser, and a better playworker. 
During this conference, I have met people with very different perspectives of playwork from myself, but also people who see play in the same way as myself but insist that they are unique, different and revolutionary in their own right. I have also met a lot of lovely people who love the stuff that Morgan and I have been doing with Pop-Up Adventure Play and the Pop-Up Play Shop, and many others that wish to open their own. I have met people in all walks of the playwork life, some who have just started, some who just startled, some who are keen, some who were there because they were sent by work, some who had been to every single spirit conference, and some that were returning from a few years break. It has been quite an experience. I even met my old colleagues from Children's Links! 
And did I mention I met Bob Hughes? Oh yes. remember I told you how big a deal he was in playwork? Well, I met Bob Hughes. And he's lovely:)


And yes I totally took a photo with him! :)

You know, I'm absolutely shattered. I have more thoughts about the conference too, but I'm not sure what they are yet. I'm sure a night's good sleep and a hearty brunch should fix that! In the meantime, I'm home, I'm happy and I've had a great time at the Spirit of Adventure Play Conference 2012. Hoorah for play any and playwork! :)

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