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False humility

September 8, 2012

I’d like to share the address of a blogger that I read fairly frequently. Dave’s blog is called “Rolling Around in My Head”.

I decided to share his blog today because he has an interesting post about f’umbles that I came across today. Dave describes f’umbles as faux humbles. Statements that appear to be made in an attempt to make the speaker look humble when they really aren’t. Statements like:

  • from one non-disabled person to another non-disabled person “I don’t know how you work with disabled children. You must have more patience than I do.”
  • from one non-disabled person to the parent of a disabled child “You must be a special person with so much love. I don’t think I could do what you do.”

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, I have been thinking about writing more about the summer camp I mentioned in my recent blog posts titled ‘care – giving and receiving’ and ‘benefits for all’. However, I think I may be in danger of making some f’umbles. So, if I do, please call me on it.

I still have some uneasiness about the fact that the summer camp was essentially a segregated camp. By hosting a segregated camp are we making it easier for the majority of mainstream summer camps to continue to exclude disabled children? What do you think?

Many of the parents would not have felt safe enough to send their children to a regular camp. Many of the children would not have felt safe enough to go to a regular camp. So, we may be providing the children and families with an opportunity that they would not otherwise experience. Is that a good enough reason to host a segregated camp?

As a therapist, I often feel like I am “pushing” children and their parents. There is a role for “pushing” but I’m not sure that I want to fill that role. Would it be “pushing” to suggest that the campers try a mainstream summer camp next year? What do you think? I think I will ask the campers what they think.


  1. Some interesting questions that I will gradually answer – or at least try to. I agree that some f’umbles come from a place of genuinely not understanding. It is hard to understand when many of us don’t have much contact with disabled people. (We can discuss the reasons for that at a different time.) It is also difficult to understand and to therefor easy to make f’umbles when the message that being disabled or different is not acceptable and is tragic is all around us. Sometimes it is tragic but usually because our society is so unaccommodating.

    I don’t think mainstream summer camps actively exclude disabled children. However, sometimes there is not accommodation for the fact that the camper will require an adult to sleep in the same room as the camper. Additionally, the cost of paying someone to stay with the camper for camp can be quite onerous. Of, course it is possible to have an unpaid person do it though that may somewhat restrict some of the camper’s new experiences.

    Your questions have made me realize that it is more likely that parents are nervous about sending their disabled children to a mainstream camp without some form of protection for their child and someone to ensure that the activities can be adapted to accommodate their child. Maybe they are also hesitant to send their children to camp with people they don’t know very well. Maybe they don’t want their children to “fail” and have to go home. “Our” camp took that part out of the equation.

    One thing “our” camp did was to allow parents to come and visit any time and to allow the children to just stay during the day and go home if they wanted to at night. I think this really added comfort for the parents and the children. Hardly any of the 14 children took advantage of these options but I think knowing that they could was helpful for the children and the parents. Thank you for your questions. They have got me thinking.


  2. Noreen permalink

    hmmm, do you think some f’umbles come, not from a place of false humility, but from a place of geniuinely not understanding?

    Do most mainstream summer camps exclude disabled children? I didn’t know that.

    What would happen if “your” summer camp was not segregated? What if the camp had all the same workers and supports but was also open to non-disabled children? Do you think some parents would be hesitant to enroll their child? Do you think some of the children would not have felt safe enough to attend?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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