It makes me happy to bring to light some women who work with camels (Our Lady of the Camels, three posts). I haven't even touched on those who labour to grow the camel dairy industry, what with the health benefits of camel milk slowly being recognized.
But I can no longer avoid sharing a man of the ilk. Avoiding is not an apt word; I've put it off because describing one of the most consistently decent human beings I have ever met ‒ is next to impossible. Decent ‒ is that quite right? Considerate, caring, modest, funny, warm, open-minded, literate, patient, unpretentious ... see, so many very suitable words come to mind but they will encourage disbelief, ringing like the smitten fan that I am.
'Tis Doug Baum, hardworking proponent and advocate of traditional camel culture.
For your information, it's not just me. Hundreds of people across the United States and bushels more across the world know and love Doug Baum for his camel expertise, his willingness to help, his hospitality, his uniquely enriching tours abroad. Not to mention his home-based Big Bend Camel Treks in eastern Texas. Want a history lesson? Doug's Texas Camel Corps attends numerous schools and historical reenactments where he educates. Need camels for your living Christmas tableaux? Doug's on it. In fact, his entire family trailers their own camels (nine at last count) around the countryside and beyond; in 2016, for instance, they participated in some thirty-nine nativity and holiday performances.
Cameleers looking for training advice or for veterinarians or saddle construction? Doug and his contacts run training clinics for international participants and freely dispense advice on Facebook. Oh, the contacts! ... in Egypt (where he keeps a home with his Cairo family), Jordan (where he regularly arranges donations for Syrian refugees), Morocco, India. Wishing you could explore an exotic country in-depth with camel ride options? Doug's your man. He leads very small group tours to all those places where travellers spend their time with locals in a cultural immersion; personal relationships become the outstanding memories. His enthusiasm is expanding to Kenya and Mongolia/China.
|Photo: Heather Daveno|
Doug also travels to provide training for animals and handlers, to build saddles, to attend conferences from Mexico to England to Mongolia. He knows that camel tourism – a newly coined phrase – can help ensure the animal's survival and turn things around economically for families in the more depressed regions. Always on his mind is the question of the native camel herdsman: "How do I continue to keep camels in my life in the face of changing times and modernization?"
So Doug's calendar must have 26 hours in a day and 40 days a month. When does he have time to make educational videos or play his guitar? And perfect his Arabic?? Or maybe he's studying Marwari by now. Yes, he has a Facebook page ("The US Army Camel Experiment") with many videos.
At any rate, don't let Doug see this or he would deflect any hint of admiration with his trademark humour.
He lights up the life of everyone he meets. I consider him the redheaded son I might have had. Camel culture is his calling, but the man with the stetson is a full-time goodwill ambassador on a global scale.
© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman