Friday, 16 May 2014

Spirit of Adventure Play Conference 2014

At the very last minute (halfway across the US, possibly in the middle of Wyoming) we decided to send me to the Spirit of Adventure Play Conference organised by PlayWales. I went a couple of years ago, and a couple of years before that again, so I knew what to expect, and was eager to meet up with fellow playworkers on those very rare occasions that we get together.

And what a conference. I found myself in good conversation with good people, working my way around some tricky "oh you're Suzanna" conversations, as well as the "Ah, you're Pop-Ups" conversations too. I was able to catch up with Clare Bryan, one of the managers I used to work for at Children's Links and also had a good laugh with Special Guest Number 1 Grant Lambie from this year's USA tour too.

This conference was lovely, I think, because I was a free agent. I didn't have to present, but I was allowed to decide what I wanted to do with the time I was given. I was really pleased to find myself in Luke Sutton's workshop on Modifications. It makes my heart sing when I hear playworkers who work in the field come out of their shell and share their reflective thoughts on play.

Spirit also made me realise something else. Last time I was there, I was nervous, new and jumpy. This time at Spirit, I felt at ease. I was happy to discuss, be challenged, be talked to and connected with. I felt alert, confident and ready. Two years of being in the playwork circuit coupled with throwing myself into a PhD has really made me a more confident advocate for play. This makes me happy for a variety of reasons which I won't go into now, but above all, I feel that I have grown to the stage in which I can confidently call myself a founder of Pop-Up Adventure Play, and a Playwork Doctorate Candidate.

The workshop that got me thinking - A Ball of String! :)

This is a landmark moment for me. It's like that moment when you realise what an artist is doing after watching them for hours and hours. Or that moment when you find the word after staring at a grid of letters for what seems forever. It is also a little like that moment when you find that thing that you thought you lost. And that moment makes me smile.

My time at Spirit may not have been filled with responsibility, but it was definitely a great moment for reflection, and I'm really grateful for the opportunity.

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