Martin Short’s older brother died while he was away at camp

Sometimes while you’re away at camp it’s easy to forget about cares of the world back home, but when Martin Short was 12 years old the harsh reality of the real world came crashing down on him while he was away at Camp Wanakita.

“On the morning of July 18, 1962, near the end of my allotted three weeks at Camp Wanakita, I awoke in an unfamiliar, befogged state: oddly depressed, lethargic, weighted down, burdened by a sense that the whole universe was out of sync,” he writes in his memoir I Must Say: My Life As A Humble Comedy Legend. “Twenty minutes later I was called down to the head counselor’s cabin. After an awkward greeting, with him unable to look me in the eyes, the counselor blurted, ‘There’s been an accident. Your brother David’s been in an accident, and it killed him.’ What an odd way to put it.”

Martin’s brother, who was 14 years older had written him a letter two weeks earlier saying he looked forward to having him visit him in Montreal and hearing all about his adventures at camp. Even more tragic, Martin didn’t receive the letter until after David had died.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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