Camp Play & Learn - for instructors

On this page, you can find relevant background materials for the “Camp Play and Learn”, taking place in Philadelphia in August 2017.


We live in a society that doesn’t seem to fully acknowledge or even understand the importance of play, and we keep undermining and removing the opportunities and spaces for children (and adults!) to play.

We seem to have, collectively, become so obsessed with predictability, productivity and measurable outcomes that we try to avoid everything we can’t control. This puts play right in the line of fire, as play can never be completely predictable or controlled, and it’s hardly productive in any usual sense. On top of that, play often takes us into silly territory, and we certainly have no time for silliness. You know, we have to learn stuff as fast as possible, so we can go work on something serious and be real adults, right?

But the problem is, that it is not healthy to squeeze play out of our lives like this, as we all (and especially children) need play in order to thrive and be happy.

This is why we take a different approach with the “Camp Play and Learn”: we focus on play for the sake of play!

Purpose of Camp Play and Learn

The purpose of the camp is, quite simply to promote the children’s “play literacy”, the capacity to play well, alone and with others. The camp is supposed to create a safe space, where the children can explore many different ways of playing, by themselves and together.

Questions to Consider

There’s no need to do any actual homework ahead of the training week, but you might want to consider a few questions about play:

What does play mean to you?

How do you like to play?

What is your favorite memory of play – 

How do you see the role of play today – in your neighborhood/city/societ at large?

About your facilitator

The training week is facilitated by Mathias Poulsen, who is the founder of the CounterPlay festival in Aarhus, Denmark, where he also happens to live. The purpose of the festival and of Mathias’ work in general is to cultivate communities, where people can explore play and help each other make society more playful.

Mathias is convinced that playful people live better lives, and consequently he’s eager to help inspire a bigger understanding and embrace of playfulness. He loves to embark on adventures and to climb trees.