Note to self: This post needs pictures. I’ll post them if/when I get them. 

I took back some lessons from facil-ing the special needs kids at P6 camp last weekend, like all good students do. I harbor no illusions – I was the student; not the teacher.

1. There is freedom in focusing so much on others that you lose yourself. 

You lose yourself, and along with it, the crippling self-doubt, the paralyzing self-consciousness, the omnipresent introspection.

It’s the reward collateral benefit of service – this intoxicating sense of liberation that I hardly find anywhere else every time I do a camp. So this is not exactly a new lesson.

But this time was intense. They were so… vulnerable. They were raw and honest. They were so completely children. And somehow, that stirred something very deep in me to want to give.

Because they were different from the rest of the kids. The rest knew it. They might not have known, but they could certainly feel it. It’s as if there’s this large invisible barrier between the three of them and the rest, that everyone knows about, but doesn’t want to talk about. It’s not that the rest were malicious or spiteful; it was more of a lack of recognition.

We participated in the games, and we went around splashing people with water. And the kids screamed, naturally. But the problem was not that they screamed, but who what they screamed at. They weren’t screaming at us, much less with us. They screaming at the water, at the event of getting splashed. To them, we were just an external event.

And when we joined their groups as co-competitors, there was no resentment. There was no reluctance. There was no grudging acceptance. There was simply nothing.

The sad thing is, things weren’t always so. From what I heard, everyone got along and played with each other when everyone was younger. And less mature. Less awkward. Less self-conscious.


And there you have it – those rare and pure moments of complete lack of selfhood that can be properly defined as ‘humility’. I don’t flaunt it; I know how hard it is for me to find it. Which is precisely why I try to capture it.

2. Growing older does not mean that you are no longer a child.

I’ve come to think that maybe maturity  and innocence are on separate spectrums. So it doesn’t mean that just because you grow older and more mature in your thinking, you become less childlike.

I thought about this because I searched quite hard within myself to find something or someone that could relate to them. And I think I did.

That’s something.

3. Don’t fall into the trap of needing to be needed. But do make sure ‘touch’ is one of your love languages. 

There are two traps that people tend to fall into when interacting with special needs kids – (1) being too firm; (2) being too caring. I fell into (2). That left me pretty drained, despite the camp being only 1.5 days.

But you definitely need to like holding theirs hands. And smiling back at them when they smile at you randomly during session while the speaker is in mid-sentence. And sitting wherever they tell you to seat.

They can get pretty tyrannical.

4. I liked them. They liked me. And I hope they enjoyed themselves. I know I did =) 


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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale. https://melvynfoo.wordpress.com/about-mel/