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Letters to John #3: When a Camp Staff Member is Critically Injured

August 9th, 2008 · No Comments · Crisis Response, John Murphy

Reposted from my the guest book entry at:

Camp staff member, John Murphy, fell from a 4th story window (not at camp) in the early morning hours on Saturday, July 19 2008. We know that John and his dear friend (also a staff member) had gone to bed and John must have gotten hot in the night and tried to open a window that was stuck and he lost his footing. He is in a coma and very critical condition due to the severe head trauma. Updates can be found in the journal at this site.

John MurphySATURDAY, AUGUST 09, 2008 10:06 AM, CDT


Saw you in your new room the other day on the 5th floor. It was great to see you finally got a TV. Hopefully they pump in ESPN. : ) All the great posters got moved and decorate your walls. I met one of your nurses and she was not only very sweet but cute. I am sure once you are back up you will make the rounds back through to all the people who cared for you. They will finally see that smile and laugh in person rather in the photos.

The staff BBQ was this week and you would have really enjoyed the kickball game against Explorer Camp. I know – you are wondering how Explorer could be a competitive opponent to Blue. It was a great game but not without significant drama and controversy. I can just hear your voice in the middle of it all stirring it up – I always loved your sense of humor. There is some dispute over who won – Explorer thinks they won and Blue thinks Explorer quit and left the game when they were ahead. I am sure Ian and Torin will give you an earful about it. You know how competitive we all are. Perhaps there will be a rematch next week. After the game Blue played another hour of kick ball – O’Dowd vs non-O’Dowd staff. O’Dowd won – and that ‘Dragon Pride’ was intense. It was a very John Murphy kind of day.

We pulled out an old video from the 2007 dance Dance-Off – another competition not without controversy. I remember all that practicing you, Sean, Rew, and Chris put into it. You guys were H Y S T E R I C A L – where did you get those dance moves?! What’s up with the hat?

Session 4 ended today and a number of staff left to get ready for school. A core group of us have 2 more weeks. The end of summer always brings mixed feelings. It is a great relief to finish the camp season and finally get some rest. It is also a time of emptiness as we all have spent so much time together in the intense camp environment – this year being the most extreme. The end of August is a time of transition out of camp and back to school. It will be harder than usual this year as we go on with our journey without you. Everyone has settled into this new routine of underlying sadness . . . but at least we have done it together. No one really needs to explain to the other what it is like to try to work and play and rest under these new conditions. As we all go our separate ways, blend back into our non-camp social groups, will others understand how we feel? Do we even grasp the task before us?

I do wonder how we will all cope? Will my brave staff be OK back at school? Will they know when to reach out for help? Do they know who to call? Have they got the ‘life skills’ to make it through this next stage apart from the safety of camp? I know they are strong – it is just painful to know they too suffer inside.

This accident has created new friendships and stronger connections. Staff prop each other up. During this stage we don’t all feel sad at the same time and in the same ways. Some of us need to just be at a party/gathering with friends or sitting around a foggy softball field talking, or sharing stories about which camper said the funniest thing today. Others just relish time at home alone. We all share this common bond of missing you, knowing life changes in ways we don’t want, and the eternal hope and faith in your ultimate recovery. We will all keep moving forward and pressing on. It won’t be the same . . . but it will be.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Jennifer Selke
Berkeley, CA
United States

Additional John Murphy links:
John’s “thanks for letting me work at camp” video
John in the 2007 Camp Dance Off
Letters to John #1: July 23, 2008
Letters to John #2: August 2, 2008
Letters to John #3: August 9, 2008
Letters to John #4: August 29, 2008