Maine summer camp counselor Hayden Marshall-Inman is one of six confirmed victims in a volcanic explosion in New Zealand. Credit: Courtesy of Julia Gustafson via WGME

FALMOUTH, Maine — Longtime Maine summer camp counselor Hayden Marshall-Inman is one of six confirmed victims in a volcanic explosion in New Zealand.

Marshall-Inman, a native of Whakatane, New Zealand, first came to Maine 20 years ago as part of the international exchange the YMCA operates, according to Micah Robbins, a Bangor native now living in Florida, who for decades worked with the Bangor YMCA at its Camp Jordan facility in Ellsworth.

Robbins said Marshall-Inman immediately fell in love with Camp Jordan and with its Leader’s School program, and that he became fast friends with all his fellow counselors, including Robbins.

“He just became one of the crew. He was great with the kids. He was just one of those people with that kind of boundless energy and great attitude that’s just super fun to be around,” Robbins said. “He really became a part of the fabric of Camp Jordan for a number of years.”

About 10 years ago, Marshall-Inman began working in the summers at the YMCA Camp of Maine in Winthrop, where he met counselor Julia Gustafson. Gustafson has spent the past day looking at pictures of her good friend Marshall-Inman.

“Hayden was like this big, goofy, 6-foot-3 gentle giant,” Gustafson said.

“He was really passionate about kids, he loved children,” Gustafson said.

Marshall-Inman worked at the camp for years, which makes his death hard to handle for many.

“I just could not believe it,” Gustafson said. “He’s just too good, you know? It’s like, how does a guy like that die? So young.”

Marshall-Inman died on Monday in his native country of New Zealand when a volcanic steam explosion caught tourists and guides by surprise.

The explosion has killed 16 people, with 28 others still hospitalized, including 23 in critical condition.

Marshall-Inman worked as a tour guide, taking people to the remote island, including Gustafson.

“I’ve actually been to the island,” Gustafson said. “He took me there on a boat. I went there with him.”

The head of the summer camp in Maine says Marshall-Inman was known for helping campers, and believes he died doing the same thing.

“Hayden always put other people first,” YMCA Camp of Maine CEO and Director Jeff Gleason said. “When he was on the island, it’s my understanding he was helping other people to safety.”

Other friends of Marshall-Inman say they will remember him most for his kind attitude and funny personality.

For Gustafson, it’s much more personal.

“He would just be like, ‘Come here girl,’ and give me a big hug,” Gustafson said. “The world lost a hero yesterday.”

Robbins said Marshall-Inman’s death was shocking and terribly sad to him, but the fact that it happened on an active volcano seemed appropriate to him.

“Of course he was walking around on an active volcano. That’s exactly where he’d have wanted to be,” Robbins said. “He had that kind of big, wild, generous spirit.”

BDN reporter Emily Burnham contributed to this report.