2012-05-30 / Front Page

Putnam Welcomes 'Ships of the Desert'

Green Chimneys asks: 'One hump, or two?'
by Eric Gross
Sage and Phoenix are blessed during a Hindu ceremony. / Eric GrossSage and Phoenix are blessed during a Hindu ceremony. / Eric Gross
A pair of 1,500-pound two-year-old Bactrian camels native to India and Asia were blessed and turned over to the Green Chimneys School Monday to assist emotionally challenged and behaviorally problem children.
Sage and Phoenix traveled more than 3,000 miles from Middletown, California—a small community located two hours north of San Francisco, where Stuart Camps, a camel herder, owns and operates a meditation retreat center catering to Eastern religious concepts and beliefs.
Camps explained his decision to transport his camels across the U.S. was an easy one: “I was looking forward to finding a good home for my babies since no way was I going to place them in the buy-sell market which often results in the animals finding themselves in difficult situations.”
Camps told the PCN&R: “Here at Green Chimneys the camels will be respected, loved, and well cared-for while assisting needy children at the same time. Camels as individuals and culturally significant beings embody and exemplify many qualities for humanity looking for direction and guidance. The camels will allow us to learn and educate ourselves and others about living in harmony respecting all life as sacred.”
Joseph Whelan, Green Chimneys’ executive director, signed an agreement accepting the camels, before the school’s students and faculty gathered in a corral on the sprawling campus: “This tells our community that Green Chimneys is not only a great place to visit but a place to bring camels. This is a great day for our students teaching them that what we are doing here directly relates to all of life.”
Dr. Samuel J. Ross, founder of Green Chimneys six decades ago, was also awestruck by the donation: “The camels have energized our students and have brought us all together as a community, both adults and children, and will be a tremendous draw to the general public. This is a wonderful educational opportunity.”
Michael Kaufmann, Green Chimneys’ farm and wildlife director, told the children that the camels will become part of the school’s extended family: “We will learn from the camels, and Sage and Phoenix will learn from us. We will teach them. Different signs of animal behavior serve as an important step towards learning human behavior.”
Camps’s eyes filled with tears when he bid his animals a final farewell: “You are being welcomed with open arms and eager hearts. I can’t ask for anything more than that.”

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