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Brian Robak, 28, fell to his death while returning from the summit of Mt. Washington (Oregon) on June 30, 2016. Robak spent eight summers and two winters as a full-time staff member at Big Lake Youth Camp, nestled at the bottom of Mt. Washington. Before joining the staff full-time, Robak had been a staff member-in-training and camper.
Photo supplied by Oregon Conference
According to Big Lake staff, this summer Robak had moved on to other responsibilities, but agreed to come to camp and spend two weeks training the worship team in scriptwriting, drama, and worship planning. Robak’s skills with drama, video, photography, and worship production have brought joyful laughter and dedicated hope to many campers and staff members at Big Lake — and at the 2014 Pathfinder camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
More than 50,000 pathfinders know and love Brian for the part he played as Nebuchadnezzar at the 2014 Forever Faithful International Camporee, said Ron Whitehead, international Pathfinder camporee director. “Brian had a love for Christ that was extra special. He used his acting gifts to present Nebuchadnezzar at the 2014 international Camporee. For weeks leading up to the Oshkosh main stage program Brian and I would pray often for God to bless him and the Daniel Bible story. Brian always gave his best; he was ‘Forever Faithful,’” said Whitehead.
“He had a significant impact on our Pathfinder group from Tasmania, Australia, when we travelled to the camporee in Oshkosh,” Tamika Spaulding wrote on the camp’s Facebook page after hearing the news of his death. “I know he has brought people to Christ,” she added.
“Even though he was never a Pathfinder Brian had a great appreciation for helping young people get to know God through the enactments of biblical stories.” said Tracy Wood, NAD Youth & Young Adult Ministries associate director. At the 2012 North Pacific Union Pathfinder Camporee “My Heart For Jesus,” Brian filled the lead role of King Saul, working alongside an entire cast of youth and young adults.
“We miss Brian” has been foremost in many Big Lake hearts this past weekend. Oregon Conference Members in Ministry already miss Robak, too. The team shared that his spirit of kind dedication and graceful service has provided a clear picture of Christ’s character; and the intensity of his love for God lives on in the hearts of thousands who met Jesus through him. Robak’s daily modeling of Christianity will be missed, but members are proud of the team he helped train as inspirational leaders.
Thursday afternoon, June 30, Robak told Les Zolbrecht, Big Lake Youth Camp director, that he was going out to take some photos and would be back in a little while. Feeling the draw of Mt. Washington, Brian’s photo journey took him up the mountain’s hogback ridge. Along the way, he took several photos and e-mailed them to friends. When he reached Mt. Washington’s summit he took one more photo, a panorama that shows the best of the Cascade Range, including Big Lake. After e-mailing this photo at about 4:30 p.m., he began the trek down. According to the sheriff’s office report, Robak fell a significant distance from near the top of Mt. Washington.
The evening before his hike up the mountain, Robak spoke at campfire. “Big Lake is the place I belong,” Robak said, “My testimony tonight is that I have found peace here. Peace, and Hope, and Love, and Jesus right in the middle of it all.”
Big Lake Youth Camp asks that people “join us in praying often for Brian’s family and friends. And please, take advantage of this moment to turn your face toward Jesus. Ask Him to fill your life with the love and hope that made Brian so special.”
For more on Brian Robak, read the Adventist Review story, “Aspiring Adventist Actor, 28, Dies While Mountain Climbing.”
— Information for this article gathered from a Big Lake Youth Camp statement and the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office release.