Revisiting Sage & Phoenix @ Green Chimneys

I’m very happy to be back visiting the amazing Green Chimneys

Since gifting Sage and Phoenix to the Green Chimneys School in New York, several months ago (May 2012), the animal staff here have been doing an excellent job of caring for the two guys and carrying through on the early phases of training them. It’s really satisfying to see the camels doing so well. I’m honored to be back here to reconnect with Sage and Phoenix, and to be able to work and play with them once more. It’s great to be working again with some of the ladies at Green Chimneys, giving them a bit more coaching in the camels’ training, and learning from their experience as well. And it’s also really good to have Michael more involved this time around.

The two camels have grown taller and heftier in just a few months. Their coats are luxurious and their life at Green Chimneys has exposed them to a large variety of different animals, people and activities, all of which have become common-place occurrences for them now.

Sage and Phoenix are very fortunate to have such a great crew of people caring for them, and developing their abilities and characters so they will, in time, begin to more directly serve, guide and inspire the many children here at Green Chimneys. Samantha, Reyanne, Christina, Miyako, Maureen, Angela, Carol, and of course Michael, are each developing good and creative relationships with the camels.

Green Chimneys flew me back here a few days ago to check in with Sage and Phoenix and I’ve been happy to find things very close to where I expected, and where they should be at this point. By the time I leave on Saturday everyone here should have their next bundle  of training “tools” sufficiently developed to steadily take things further with the camels.



clarifying "table manners"...






With our final day together (Friday) we’ll consolidate things already gone over: leading-from-behind, lead-walking refinement, introductions to other species, body language, voice tonality, playfulness and seriousness of intent and focus. It will have been a very full four days of interaction for camels and people, after which both should take a break from anything resembling training for a good few days and let everything learned in this intensive be assimilated. Then, after a short hiatus, regroup, start again and go forward, steadily building on what we’ve put in place together…

I appreciate and respect the new friends I’ve made during my short visits here, and I’m honored to have been allowed into their work-lives and working community.

Gifting Sage and Phoenix to Green Chimneys was, and very much continues to be, a fine event, fulfilling many intentions for both parties. As these two young camels continue maturing I can see them becoming a powerful and enduring force at Green Chimneys, for the kids, for those who work here and for those fortunate to visit.

A sincere word of thanks is due to Dr. Sam Ross, who founded Green Chimneys, to Michael Kaufmann who played a major role in Sage and Phoenix coming here, and to Samantha Hough for very capably overseeing all the details of the camels’ lives.

Additionally, I want to acknowledge two amazing California women, Carolyn Resnick and Robin Gates, for their mentor-ship of my own engagement of the “Seven Waterhole Rituals” for training horses, camels and other herd animals.

And finally, what we are steadily, uniquely, developing from the always deepening resource of the Sacred Camel Gardens would not be happening without Adi Da Samraj’s Compassion and Wisdom toward all non-humans, and humans, alike… In actuality, the camels, Sage and Phoenix are a direct and personal Gift from Adi Da to Green Chimneys, in honor of the Sacred in all Life.










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7 Responses to Revisiting Sage & Phoenix @ Green Chimneys

  1. randall hoel says:

    Tat Sundarum. Thanks for this communique!

  2. Marcelene Alexander says:

    Thank you for this beautiful update on Sage and Phoenix.

  3. Charles Campbell says:

    This is a wonderful follow-up to a great story.
    This is how intimacy develops – the giving of gifts, the building of trust, all from a disposition of openness and love. At first I didn’t understand what Stuart was doing, giving away for free such valuable assets as two young camels – just think what they could bring on the open market! Thankfully, I wasn’t in charge, and gradually I have come to see the wisdom and even the necessity of doing it this way. Thank you Stuart for dedicating your life to service – to your Teacher, and the camels, and to humans as well, those who also want to know and serve and learn from the non-humans. May the story continue to unfold.

  4. I just received a text from Stuart that he is on his way back home from LaGuardia airport in New York City after 4 exciting days of learning together with him – Reyanne, one of our staff just took him to the airport. They had to leave Green Chimneys at 5:00 am this morning. Yikes!

    I am here at the farm- it is about 7 am – we will host a special event here today that will draw hundreds of people for a fall festival day. As always now, Sage and Phoenix will be highly visible, standing regal in their pasture or coming down from their hill to interact with people over the fence.

    When I first started to communicate with Stuart about a year ago – everyone here at Green Chimneys- except our founder Dr. Ross – thought I was crazy to contemplate bringing camels to our campus. Sam Ross immediately understood – I suppose we are crazy in similar ways!

    Since then most of our staff and students have come to see why Sage and Phoenix are here and we continue a fantastic journey of growth, change and communication with these two guys and with Stuart.

    Adding the camels to the diverse therapeutic, educational and recreational programs at Green Chimneys continues to offer the students, staff, public (and anyone who comes here) a chance to connect with these unique animals, to build healthy and meaningful relationship, to learn and to benefit from the interactions with them.

    We remain thankful for the marvelous gift we have been offered via Stuart and the entire Sacred Camel Garden community. What a special group you all are – Thank you!

  5. jan elliott says:

    Thank you for this gift, your notes, Stuart, and Adi Da Samraj’s inspiration for the Sacred Camel Gardens and their proteges, these beautiful camels. I look forward to following this as it all unfolds further…

  6. Christina Russell says:

    After learning that Green Chimneys would be gifted two camels, my emotions were a mixture between excitement and apprehension. Although the idea of having such unique and majestic beings join us was thrilling, I also couldn’t help but to be a bit of a skeptic. What did anyone at Green Chimneys know about camels, let alone raising and training them? Through slow and steady communication with Stuart, we began to build confidence in this undertaking and grew closer as a team. We counted the days until the camels would arrive, anxious to begin this adventure.

    When Phoenix first tentatively stepped off the trailer, my eyes immediately began to well up with tears. I was in such awe of this regal creature, standing before me with such deep and knowing eyes. I knew then that getting to know Phoenix and Sage would be an experience like none other, and was relieved in a sense that they were finally here and this was indeed a reality.

    After that initial week that Stuart stayed with us, our acclimation and training with the camels has been a true journey. Months of patience, observation, trial and error and discussions revolving around Phoenix and Sage. It is easy to take your work and environment for granted. Meeting the camels, slowly learning and growing together has refreshed my sense of wonder. I can now put myself back in the position of a child seeing a horse up close for the first time, something I don’t think twice about.

    Thank you Stuart for guiding us in the undertaking, it has truly changed the way I view relationships with animals. Your approach has always been kind, consistent, sensitive and respectful. Your ability to quietly observe and correct the smallest of details in training, only proves how in tune you are with the camels. I’ve worked with many horse trainers over the years and have never quite seen true connection like you have demonstrated with Phoenix and Sage. I asked you “why camels?’ when we first met, and recall not fully understanding your response.

    I now have my answer.

  7. Miyako Kinoshita says:

    Phoenix and Sage have been a lot more than the sacred gifts to us. Firstly even though Green Chimneys has numbers of animals and we are all animal professionals, camels are new and unknown to us as animals as well as to our vet and our community. Secondly and more importantly, Phoenix and Sage came with a significant spiritual and emotional importance, mirroring our new concept of “sanctuary model” which is based on creating emotionally safe environment for our children and staff to promote growth and change to better future.

    Our journey with Phoenix and Sage has represented growth and change, every step of the way, from simple things such as how to feed them to how to connect with them and work with them.

    This process has been slow, as we all are learning, and made us anxious and impatient at times. Our primary goal is for our children to benefit from working with Phoenix and Sage, and we could not wait for that to happen from the day one. We realized early on that we need to know more and understand more about them before we can introduce children to them safely, and at times it may have felt like a setback to some of us.

    Another challenge was that the staff who work with camels closely represent members of different sub-sections of the farm. (we have equine, wildlife, and farm animal areas, and each area cares for certain species of animals) Since this team was formed in a very un-traditional ways, pulling one or two staff from each of these areas, we needed to make room for the new system and time in order for us to create this program.

    Camel team consists of young and dedicated professionals from different backgrounds. And the team has support from other staff members and interns who may not work with Phoenix and Sage closely but fill in the gap when the camel team needs to work.

    Phoenix and Sage challenged us how we can work together to make this happen. Camels have a huge presence, and of course most everyone wanted to work with them. I am very proud that we have really figured out the balance, and everyone really found a role, either leading or supportive, both very different but equally important. Though at times this process seemed to pull us apart, we have gotten stronger and closer in the end.

    This week with Stewart really signified the progress we made in our group. We struggle with the balance day-to-day, and we continue to work on it, but I was thankful that our camel team was given opportunity to spend a lot of time with Stuart, while others really did the “behind the scene” work to make it so.

    So, thank you, Stuart, Sam, Reyanne, Tina, Angela, and Michael, for a great week of learning and re-evaluating where we are at with this. We have some new goals. And thanks goes to Carol, Paul, Maureen, Jenna, Susan from our animal areas, and Jessie, Jess, Adam, Brynn, Crys, and Lindsay, our interns, for making this possible. And last but not least, thank you, Phoenix and Sage, for bringing us this opportunity and challenge. We hope that we have met your expectations. You have been amazing… and we will continue our journey as a team…

    Miyako Kinoshita

    That was the most beautiful thing about this week for me.

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