Reflection by Katie

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Horne,

It has been many years since I've seen/spoken to you, but I wanted to reach out and share with you how much Ben's friendship meant to me over the years.  I am just so sad at the news of his death (though know he is in heaven and there is peace in this.)  Through sharing memories I hope to be able to help celebrate Ben's life. 

I remember meeting Ben for the first time, at some party during our freshman year of high school - when I spied a guy wearing a Mar-Lu-Ridge t-shirt from across the room -- not a common sight...and I decided I had to get to know the guy that 1) had some connection to the relatively obscure camp I attended that no one else in No. Va seemed to have heard of, and 2) chose a MLR t-shirt to wear to a high school party where others seemed mostly dressed to impress. :)

Though friends in high school, I got to know Ben much better while working at camp, right after we graduated from TJ.  There are so many memories of those summers that I will forever carry with me and the vast majority of them involve Ben.  So many of them are tiny memories, small moments but images I'll never forget: the way Ben would sing along so loudly with all the camp songs even with his self-identified inability to sing on key :) -- just showed his desire to put 100% of his heart and soul into everything he did and attempted; how Ben loved leading the night hikes with campers most of all; how joyful and goofy he looked when he danced; how his laugh was loud and contagious.  I remember him making up a cheer when we were co-counselors for MLR's first ever science camp - he marched around the mountain that week cheering loudly about Bill Nye, electrons and pi -- he turned science camp into something cool for a group of 10 year olds.  I remember road trips to the beach on weekends with Ben and other counselors, while blasting REM and Pearl Jam music; spending random days in Frederick, Maryland walking around thrift stores with Ben, camping at Deep Creek Lake, and other weekend adventures during the 24 hours we had off between groups of campers.  Mostly what I remember about Ben from camp, though, were the conversations during our breaks or on the weekends, when we'd often hike around camp, up to the power-lines, etc, and talked about everything and anything.  He was a great friend to me.

The first summer I worked at MLR, Ben's model of what it looked like to live your faith was remarkable to me.  I was still figuring out exactly what I believed and what faith meant in my life.  Seeing Ben's personal connection to his faith (even though we were quite young - 18/19 yrs old) transformed what I thought about what it meant to live your life in alignment with what you believe.   At this point in my life (transitioning high school/college/early college), Ben was my very best friend.  Though we grew apart and weren't in frequent contact after his move to San Diego, his friendship greatly impacted my life during those years.  

I have always admired so many things about him: his rugged individualism, his care for people and relationships, his sharp intelligence and humor, his thirst for adventure, the way he appreciated simplicity and didn't so much appreciate material things, his willingness to be honest and vulnerable about his challenges and struggles, too.  Another thing about Ben that I admired was his ability to connect with anyone - all groups of people, from all walks of life and backgrounds, felt comfortable with Ben and wanted to be his friend.  Above all, what I have always admired about Ben is the way he loved God and loved his family.  It was impossible to be Ben's friend and not also get to know his family as he values and loves you all so much. He is truly special.  I'm heartbroken that I won't see him again on this earth.