Submitted by Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona

Camelot relaxes between performances. That
loose, droopy lip says it all: shear contentment.

Fall gives way to winter as camels across America prepare for their annual 15 minutes of fame.  While the majority of  American’s know this time of year as Christmas Season, an ever growing number of  camel owners also have another name for it: Nativity Season.Although biblical historians share their revelation that the famed visit of the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus most like happened when Jesus was around three years old,  the tradition of the Nativity scene complete with shepherds, sheep, the faithful donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem and the three Magi with their beautifully adorned camels appear in traditional Living Nativity scenes throughout the Christmas Season.

At the Oasis Camel Dairy on Hwy 78 between Ramona and Julian, CA; we lovingly refer to December as the camel’s Super Bowl Season.  From the first of December through the 26th they are rock stars on demand appearing in parades, plays, churches and community events.

Their magnificent size, colorful costuming and quiet, graceful demeanor enchant everyone they meet.  It is truly an honor to accompany them for this seasonal tradition.There are lots of different ways the camels participate in the Holiday Season.
Some of our camels like Jamal, Boo-boo and Cleopatra give children camel rides.  Some like Jasmine and Sampson simply stand quietly greeting guests after a joyful Christmas Eve church service.Then there is Camelot.  Camelot does it all with patience, wisdom and grace.  Camelot is our eighteen year old former petting-zoo baby camel who has lived here as a beloved member of our twenty plus camel herd for the past dozen years.  He has most famously entertained the likes of TV’s Mike Rowe and San Diego’s own Larry Himmel  (they were such buds) and every child that comes to the farm for a Make a Wish Camel Encounter.

If you watch El Cajon based, Shadow Mountain Community Church’s annual televised Christmas service; either live-in-person or streamed across the world; that is Camelot you see ambling slowly through the audience, down to the Nativity and then making his majestic exit back up and out of the packed sanctuary… randomly kissing audience members as he meanders slowly up and out of the room, his huge hump just barely touching under the double doors.

This was a quick shot during rehersal… you can tell because I’m in front with the sheep taking pictures!
Ya… in the real show.. that would kinda take people out of the moment!  .

Video embedded with permission from David Silva

Not all camels are cut out for life in the spot light.  It very much depends on how they were raised, how much confidence they have about being around people and new situations and, most importantly, how much trust they have in their human handler.

A lot goes into helping one of our Oasis Camel Dairy camels transform into a super star.  Our camels are always protected and accompanied by someone they know and trust.  We do a lot of work with our camels every day to insure their experiences are interesting and rewarding to them.

We monitor our success or failure by studying the camel’s communication and behavior.

An easy example of this is watching them in their pastures and corrals while we prepare their trailer for travel to an event.  Are they at the gate hoping to catch our attention?  Is the camel we are wanting to train leaning into the situation or leaning away.  If he is not showing interest, then we back up and create more experiences that are rewarding, fun, easy and pleasant.   We do this for both the camels and the humans that work together.  It is more fun to go to work with individuals that like their job.  That goes for four-legged folks as much as two-legged ones.

If you are one of the thousands of American’s tasked this time of year with finding a local camel (you would be surprised how many are beloved pets in rural homes) to give your event that wow factor, here are a few things to consider:

  • Do your best to find a camel who is used to doing these sorts of things.  It is easier on you and easier on the camel.
  • If you do find a professional camel operation, be sure to ask how much experience the camel that is coming to you has.  If the company has lots of bookings, they may need to call up their second string.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing… but you need to know how experienced the camel is at doing what you are going to be asking of it.
  • If you find a local pet camel in someone’s backyard, be careful not to automatically assume it will be comfortable being in public with lots of lights, sounds and crowds.
  • Give the backyard camel lots of room.  Camels can kick and may do so at something unfamiliar.  A camel not used to crowds may only need extra wide aisles to traverse and an extra large area to stand in to be comfortable and accept this new situation.
  • The backyard camel will not be used to theme lighting.  Keep your lights flat and even so they don’t create dramatically moving shadows.

The Christmas Season is a time of community, joy and celebration.  It is for us and for our camels too.

Wishing all our friends, families and neighbors close by and around the world a very Merry Christmas.