After a session at summer camp, Gavin Horner came home and gave his father a pleasant surprise: a clean-cut hairstyle. It was a subconscious statement that he no longer needed his mullet, Kodiak boots and lumber jacket, and he was "happy with a more presentable appearance." Read more
As a teen, he wasn't immune to the lures of mischief and dressing "like a thug." He admits it could have led him down a completely different path.
"Camping encouraged me to be on the right side of the law," says Horner, now a 43-year-old Toronto police detective. "(Camp) changed the way I grew up from that age onward."
Today the detective's job is to keep others, including teens who remind him of his rebellious younger self, on the straight and narrow. From the general patrol to investigative units, he says he gets fulfillment from doing genuine good for other people.
It has kept him going through 23 years of long hours and gruelling dedication. What helped are the years he spent at camp, where he learned the value of teamwork, physical exercise and a genuine sense of belonging. That's why his son has spent the past eight years at camp.
"(Camp) gave me and my son a better vision of how to interact with other people and treat them right," he says. "It's not just the environment. It's not just the outdoors and the location of the camp. It is the people and the spirit of those people."