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Ram Handlers Take Care of Cam on and off the Stage


Thanks to a group of College of Agriculture students in 1946, a sheep was brought to a Colorado State University basketball game. And now we have the amazing tradition of bringing our very own CAM the Ram to lots of different events. As of 1954, CAM (standing for Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical) is CSU’s official mascot and was christened by President Morgan at a basketball game against Wyoming.

Our current CAM is the 25th designated ram for CSU and he celebrated his third birthday this past March. A couple of ways to get on CAM’s good side, and maybe even receive his charming grin according to Ram Handler Jessica Balasuriya, is to scratch underneath his chin.

Jessica Balasuriya
Jessica Balasuriya helps take care of CAM on and off the ‘stage.’ Photo credit: Kelly Peterson

Balasuriya is a fourth-year animal science student at CSU who “heard so many good things about being on CAM’s team” that she decided to apply.

Next year’s application is closing April 20, 2018, and she highly recommends considering applying because she created great connections with people and gets to spend quality time with the one and only four-legged mascot for CSU. Students do not have to be in a certain major to apply to be a ram handler, it is open to any student.

Balasuriya’s favorite part of working with CAM is taking him to campus events like Choose CSU, football games or alumni events because of all of “the energy, smiles and happiness.” Even CAM “gets hyped” by the activity of the crowds and Balasuriya said it is almost like he has his own fiery school spirit.

Balasuriya said the toughest part about being on the team is remembering that she is a student first and even though she wants to attend every event CAM is invited to, she knows that she has to focus on her studies as well.

Cam the Ram stands on the plaza, posing for pictures, for the Founder's Day celebrations on Feb. 9. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)
Cam the Ram stands on the plaza, posing for pictures, for the Founder’s Day celebrations on Feb. 9. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

There are 22 current ram handlers who are volunteers in charge of feeding CAM twice a day, bathing him before events and cleaning his home at a private farm on the edge of town. Balasuriya said it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to fully bathe him and get him fancied up for the cameras.

“We come together for one goal: CAM,” Balasuriya said. The whole team is dedicated to giving back to CSU. It really is teamwork that makes the dream work.

When people ask how CAM is living, Balasuriya said the handlers all agree “he’s living luxuriously.” Including when he travels from place to place in his 32-foot trailer. This famous wooly character gets outdoor access, fresh hay, feet trimmings and mats to lay on at his home sweet home.

CSU always keeps a ram in training just in case anything happens to the current CAM. The handlers use a clicking noise to train them. Training includes getting them used to human touch and running across the end zone. He now naturally turns his head toward the sound of a click of cameras which ironically help get those picture-perfect moments.

The CSU community is thankful for the hard work of the ram handlers and because of them, we can embrace the joy that CAM brings to our campus.

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