A day in the life of Cam the Ram and his handlers

Nate Day

Video by Brooke Buchan

Colorado State University is full of local celebrities. Everyone knows Tony Frank and his legendary beard, and students love professors like Denise Apodaca and coaches like Mike Bobo, but they all pale in comparison to one individual: Cam the Ram.

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While students are constantly excited to see Cam visiting campus, they rarely are allowed a glimpse into the care that goes into maintaining Cam and prepping him for events.

Cam, who is owned by the Alumni Association, is kept at a ranch belonging to a retired animal sciences professor. His specific location is kept a secret to avoid incidents from rival schools. One Cam was allegedly spray painted blue by students at the Air Force Academy, and another was stolen by a CU fraternity before causing thousands of dollars worth of damage in the garage that they kept him in, according to his handlers.

Cam isn’t alone, however. At the farm, there is another male ram–called Mac by the handlers–who is used as a backup if Cam is ever too ill to make an appearance, a special lady-friend known as Camera and a young sheep named Macy all keep him company.

According to Ram Handler Justin Gorman, a junior studying agricultural business, Cam resides in the “Taj Mahal” of barns after the previous one burned down.

Most days, Cam spends time training with his handlers.

“We’ll put the halter on him and socialize him,” Gorman said. “We’ll simulate situations like a kid running up to him or a towel flapping around.”

The training is designed to prepare Cam for the assortment of unusual happenings that could take place at any moment.

On event days, Cam undergoes pampering as a form of preparation.

“We’ll wash him with soap and water,” said Aly Ridings, a senior studying biology. “And then we shave him before we leave.”

The Alumni Association is currently accepting applications for Cam Handlers, with no restrictions on field of study. Applications can be found at alumni.colostate.edu, and are due by April 20. 

Cam’s wool is shaved off of most of his body, leaving some on his back for a blanket to rest on.

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“We sheer him pretty often in the summer so he can stay cool,” said Clarissa Carver, a senior animal sciences student. “In the winter, we’ll shave him every few months to keep him warmer.”

While he’s being shaved by a handful of handlers, Cam’s trailer is prepped with food and water to make his ride comfortable, and other handlers spend time cleaning up bits of Cam’s wool, as well as other things Cam leaves behind.

“Why you gotta poop so much?” Brodan Baker, a sophomore in the construction management department asked Cam as he raked up small pellets during the event preparation.

Cam’s greatest quality is his ability to promote school spirit. Bella Peña, a prospective student that met Cam at Choose CSU, said that Cam influenced her decision to attend.

“No other school I’ve visited has (brought out their mascot),” Peña said.

When students meet Cam, some seemed a bit confused. According to his handlers, one student thought Cam was a dog. But others squeal with delight at the opportunity to give a sheep as sweet as Cam plenty of attention.

He gets really excited to run during football games.” -Justin Gorman, Cam Handler 

Both Gorman and Ridings cited making fans happy as the best part of their job as Ram handlers. 

“I was a lost freshman when I applied,” Gorman said. “I didn’t really have anyone on campus.”

Gorman, who has worked as a handler for two years now, is an integral part of the team as the only driver, meaning he hauls a massive trailer all around town and even to Denver for a handful of events each year.

Cam loves his job, according to Gorman.

“He gets really excited to run during football games,” Gorman said. 

Gorman noted that sheep have different hearing frequencies than humans, so canon booms and screaming attendees don’t bother him much. 

According to Gorman, he’ll even fall asleep during some of the night games.

As for why they use a domestic sheep rather than a bighorn sheep, rumor has it that an owner of several bighorn sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park once was rammed by one of her pets from a foot away and it resulted in a full knee replacement, according to Ridings.

“(The retired professor) told me that, and he admits to sometimes making up stories,” Ridings said in jest. “But we want to be able to bring him out to meet people, so we stick with the sheep.”

The Alumni Association is currently accepting applications for Ram Handlers, with no restrictions on field of study. Applications can be found at alumni.colostate.edu, and are due by April 20. 

Collegian reporter Nate Day can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMDay