Founder of Outdoor Afro to Keynote The Play Conference 2016

The U.S. Play Coalition is proud to announce that Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, will be a keynote speaker for The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play, April 3-6, at Clemson University.

Outdoor Afro is a community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping,hiking, biking, birding, fishing, gardening, skiing – and PLAY!  Learn how this cutting edge concept grew from Rue’s modest blog in 2009 to a national network that has captured the attention and imagination of millions through a multi-media approach, grounded in personal connections and community organizing.  Rue will share the Outdoor Afro model for creating opportunities to build community and leadership by PLAYing together in nature.

In 2010, Rue Mapp was invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, and subsequently to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She was appointed program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment to oversee its grant-making program from 2010-2012.

Since that time, Mapp’s work has been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Backpacker Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Sunset Magazine, NPR, and many others.

Rue’s ongoing work has been recognized with numerous Awards and Distinctions: The Root 100 as one of the most influential African Americans in the country, Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award, 2014 National Wildlife Federation Communication award (received alongside President Bill Clinton) and in May 2015, Family Circle Magazine selected Rue as one of America’s 20 Most Influential Moms.

Rue is proud to serve on the Board of Rails to Trails Conservancy, American Camp Association, and the Outdoor Industry Association. Most recently, Rue was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by Governor Jerry Brown.

A graduate of UC Berkeley (with a Degree in Art History), Rue’s skills and background make her a unique voice via the programs she has instituted through OA and enlightened a diverse community to the wonders and benefits of the outdoors. Rue resides in Oakland CA, and is the proud mother of three active teenage children.

We are thrilled that Rue will be with us for The Play Conference 2016! Learn more about the conference by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


Founder of Free Range Kids to Keynote The Play Conference 2016

The US Play Coalition is thrilled to announce that Lenore Skenazy will be the first keynote speaker for The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play, April 3-6, at Clemson University.  She is founder of the book, blog and movement, “Free-Range Kids”lenore collage, which launched the anti-helicopter parenting crusade.  Her keynote presentation, “Free Range Kids: Raising Safe, Self-Reliant, PLAYFUL Children without Going Nuts with Worry,” will examine our culture’s obsession with risk, and how to flip it to an obsession with play.

A public speaker, Lenore Skenazy has lectured everywhere from Microsoft headquarters to the Sydney Opera House. She’s also a frequent guest on talk shows and has written for everyone from The Daily News (where she was a reporter for 14 years) to Mad Magazine. Yep. THE Mad Magazine (She’s funny!).  Skenazy has been profiled in The New York Times and The New Yorker, and was recently featured on The Daily Show with John Stewart.

The goal of Free-Range Kids is “fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.”

A graduate of Yale and Columbia, Lenore Skenazy lives in New York City with her husband and teen sons who are half-Free-Range and half social media addicts. Then again, so is she.

Learn more about The Play Conference 2016 by clicking here.

Early bird registration is now open!


The VERY FIRST to register for The Play Conference 2016 is…!

The VERY FIRST to register for The Play Conference 2016 is Sarah Cosco from British Columbia (seen front and center in the boxes pictured right). The three time Play Conference alum says this about why she keeps coming back: “What I love most about the conferences: the people and the energy! There is so much passion about play and it comes from within people from all different backgrounds. The interdisciplinary lens captures the magnitude of play’s influence across the lifespan, and across the globe, and having the opportunity to connect with experts in play from all of these different backgrounds brings our collective learning to a whole new level. But we don’t just talk the talk at the conference, we walk it too! I have so much fun playing with so many people, and each time I go I meet new friends and get to reconnect with familiar faces. It honestly feels like coming home. I can’t wait for next year’s conference, I’m so excited to see what everyone has been up to and what playful shenanigans we can get into while we’re there!”

Join Sarah and hundreds of other play advocates at The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play.  Early bird registration is now open! 


2016 Play Conference Gets a REBOOT

The US Play Coalition is beyond excited to announce that next year’s conference is NEW AND IMPROVED! In fact, it has been REBOOTED!  New Dates, New Approaches, New Opportunities.

The Play Conference 2016: Rebooting Play is April 3-6, 2016 at the Madren Conference Center in Clemson, SC.

Building on the energy and innovation that came from our snowy and sometimes “power-free” 2015 conference, there will be new elements for the 2016 conference – round tables, fireside chats, coffee talks and “Play Talks.” The dates have also been changed to April to (hopefully) avoid the snow!

Round tables will feature knowledgeable facilitators around critical issues and trends in the field. Fireside Chats and Coffee Talks will harness the organic opportunities for networking, collaborating and research. And “Play Talks,” our version of TED Talks, will be a series of 15-20 minute dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, engaging, inspiring, informative talks by thought leaders in the play world. These new components, coupled with traditional presentations and our epic PLAY breaks will make The Play Conference an event not to be missed. Be sure to mark your calendars!!

While you are marking your calendar, you may want to reserve your hotel room.  The James F. Martin Inn is attached to the Madren Conference Center. A block of rooms has been reserved for conference attendees for only $109 per night (does NOT include breakfast). A block of rooms is also available at the Holiday Inn Express in Clemson for $99/night including breakfast. We will have a regular complimentary shuttle from there to the conference and back.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Email Stephanie Garst at spgarst@clemson.edu for more details. A call for Presentation Proposals will be out in early September.


Play Conference Reboot is Coming April 3-6, 2016 @ Clemson University

Mark your calendars because you will NOT want to miss this!!  After five years, the Conference on the Value of Play is getting a reboot!  Starting with a change in dates – because April showers are way more fun than power outages and sleet – there are BIG PLANS for the 6th Annual Play Conference.  Keep your eyes peeled and your ears perked because spring has sprung – and so have we!  More details to come!


The 2015 Conference on the Value of Play: Advancing Play was one for the record books!

Record registration, record snow, record memories!

Click on the Tiger for photo highlights from the Play Conference

Neither an ice storm nor a lack of power kept the 2015 Conference on the Value of Play from its laser-focus on promoting the importance of play in everyday life! The Feb. 15-18 conference, which drew play researchers and advocates from across the world, featured the unveiling of research touting recess as an essential activity that enhances children’s health, development and capacity to learn, as well as the debut of Play Pulse, a quarterly publication on play research, information and advocacy. ADD/HD expert Kevin Ross Emery and renowned psychology author Peter Gray served as keynote speakers, and the conference also included a variety of lectures, sessions and panel discussions as well as a luncheon address by Clemson First Lady Beth Clements.