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AA Camel Prayer

AA Camel Prayer | Turning Point of Tampa

After the book, “Dr Bob and The Good Oldtimers,” was published in 1980, by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, camels became a metaphor in Alcoholics Anonymous for sobriety, one day at a time. Dr. Bob liked the camel symbol. The concept of one master and staying the whole day completely dry. He then would explain prayer by saying that a camel would go to its knees twice a day; once in the morning, and once at the end of the day. The concept here is to begin our day by asking for help, and giving thanks at night for having stayed sober for that day.

The prayer goes like this:

“The tasks of the day can pass with ease
when a camel or I start on our knees.
One Master we serve, the camel and I,
and stay for that day completely dry.”

The Camel

Camels of all types, whether they be wild bactrian or domestic bactrian camel, or dromedary camels are symbolic in AA because they all have one thing in common – they can withstand long periods of time without drinking. The difference is, of course, that camels only drink water. The camel symbolism here is intended to inspire us to abstain from alcohol. Because, for many alcoholics, alcohol was as important to us, as water is to a camel.

Certainly, no one is advocating going without water for any amount of time. The intent here is meant to be a reminder, and to encourage alcoholics to begin the day with a prayer, asking a power greater than themselves to help refrain from drinking alcohol for that day.

Camel and a Day At a Time

Staying present in our lives is another of the concepts we learn when we enter into recovery. The one day at a time idea helps us to remember to carry just the load we have for this day. The camel prayer helps to remind us that we can “the tasks of the day can pass with ease when a camel or I start on our knees”, if we try to practice the simple concepts we have learned from others in the program.

As we recover from addiction, we discover that any personal power we may have resides with us only in the present moment. We are powerless to change the past, and cannot control what the future holds. By living our lives one day at a time, we learn that the only thing we can control is us, right now.

One Master

“One master we serve, the camel and I”. This line in the prayer is of course referring to finding our own conception of a higher power, as we understand that power. One of the main ideas we develop in 12 step recovery admitting that we are not that power. We finally recognize that we can’t do this alone, that we occasionally need to ask for help.

The Day Completely Dry

As we use the image of a camel to inspire us to go through our day without using alcohol or another drug to change how we feel, we begin to appreciate that although we may not have the ability withstand the environment the camel lives in every day, we do have the ability to not only withstand the conditions in which we live, but to function more effectively, as well.

Modern Times

When we think of the camel prayer, we can remember that camels are very adaptable to their environment. Also, by going to their knees to accept the load of cargo or the traveler that they will transport for that day they symbolize the concept of humility. And it is so with us. In recovery, we learn that some humility is essential, if we are to stay sober and grow.

Additionally, camels embody the qualities of endurance, and most especially – patience. Because the camel is able to withstand the conditions of a harsh environment, our camel spirit animal teaches us to persevere through life’s challenges and remain steadfast in our goals.

Modern Camels

Currently there are just three species of camel in the world today: Wild bactrian camel, the domestic bactrian camel, and the dromedary camel. The Bactrian camel is the one with two humps, which contain a reserve of fat, not water.

It is in dispute exactly how long ago camels were first domesticated and used to transport people and cargo across desert sand. However, it seems to be generally agreed that it was between 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The Nomadic people of the Arabian Peninsula, in the middle east region of the Mediterranean Sea have long known that these animals are the best way to transport items and travel across the desert. Camels are used for this purpose to this day.

Family Camelidae

Scientifically, all Camelids are members of biological family Camelidae, which includes all camels, as well as llamas and alpacas. They are herbivorous, or plant eating animals, and have adapted specialized qualities that allow them to survive in arid regions with few water sources.

Just like the camel, when we come into Alcoholics Anonymous, or another 12 step program, we develop specialized skills that allow us to survive without consuming alcohol, or other mood altering substances. Using the tools we are given by those that have walked before us, we find that we gain a strength character and purpose, of which we were unaware we were capable.

Dromedary Camels

The Dromedary camel is also known as the Arabian, or one humped, camel. They are primarily found in the Sahara desert in Northern Africa, India and the Middle East region, around the Arabian peninsula.

The dromedary is the tallest species of camel; an adult male stands about 6 to 7 feet at the shoulder, while females measure about 5 to 6 feet. The male typically weighs between 800 and 1500 LBS, and the females have a more svelte, slender body weight of between 650 to 1200 LBS.

The distinctive features of the dromedary are its long, curved neck and narrow chest, and of course, the single hump. The dromedary sports long hairs on the throat, shoulders and hump. The coat is generally a shade of brown.

100 Miles a Day

The dromedary camel can travel up to 100 miles in a day, without needing water.

When we begin our morning with a prayer and ask for help, we set ourselves up to succeed in staying sober for that day. After we try this for a while, we are able to make better decisions as well as stay grounded in our present life, rather than the past or the future. We find that we too can travel, figuratively of course, 100 miles or more without taking that first drink.

Bactrian Camels

Bactrian camels, also known as the Mongolian camel, are the ones with two humps. Bactrian camels can be found mostly in Central Asia and the Gobi desert region of Mongolia. These camels also have a greater tolerance for a dry climate, cold weather and the higher altitudes found in these areas. Additionally Bactrian Camels are usually friendly to humans, which makes them fairly easy to domesticate.

The name for the Bactrian camel is derived from the name “Bactria” or “Bactriana”, which was an ancient civilization located in the area around what is now modern day Iran and Afghanistan. Several important trade routes originated in India and China, and passed through Bactria. Because of this the Bactrian camel became crucial to travel and the transport of goods.

South American Camelids

The classification of Camelid formally includes Camels, Llamas, Alpacas and an animal called a Vicuna. They are also classified in the order Artiodactyla, along with such other species as whales, cattle, pigs, deer and antelopes. Science is weird, sometimes.

Another specialized adaptation for camels and their cousins is that their red blood cells are oval in shape. While these cells in most mammals are disc shaped, this adaptation has a lot to do with how they manage to go long periods of time without needing water. The oval shape of their blood cells allows the cells to expand and retain more fluid than the disc shape does, when they are re-hydrated.

Genus Camelus

As we have seen, camels have developed specialized abilities that allow them to conserve water in the very dry regions where they live, such as the Sarhara Desert, Egypt and Mongolia. Additionally, they have very long eyelashes that allow them to withstand strong winds and the occasional sandstorms they encounter, and specialized nostrils that keep sand out and allow them to take water back in to their body through exhaled air.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the Camel Symbol

The camel each day goes twice to his knees.
He picks up his load with the greatest of ease.
He walks through the day with his head held high.
And stays for that day, completely dry.

Our Head Held High

“He walks through the day with his head held high”. Or she. Female camels do a lot of stuff, too.

Like the camel, once we begin our journey on our new way of life, we can hold our head high, because we are now part of the solution, and are no longer The Problem. When we go through our day completely dry from alcohol we find that we become more able to handle to the ups and downs of life. We learn to take it easy, instead of the “heavy does it” way we used to live.

Thankfully most of us don’t have to trudge through harsh environments every day. However, the camel can still be our spirit animal and inspire us to embrace and accept the challenges that will come to us as we gain sobriety, in our quest to recover from addiction.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, and the other 12 step recovery programs, we learn to stay sober, while carrying just the load we are given, while trying to rid ourselves of the burdens that we carry into sobriety. We also undertake the task of attempting to make right the wrongs we committed while practicing our addiction. These things are at the core of what addiction recovery is about.

When we were practicing our addiction in the past, we may have blamed others for our problems. Or we may have expected others to take care of us, or demanded that they do so. We may have been liars, cheats or emotionally abusive. When we enter 12 step recovery, we learn that selfishness and self centeredness were actually at the root of our troubles. There was no one else to blame anymore. In this way, we become free and are able to put down the burden of our past.

Completely Dry

“And stay, for that day, completely dry”. In recovery, we learn that in order to maintain sobriety and stay completely dry or abstinent we must find a power greater than us. Obviously, if we have come to AA and intend to stay, we have made a mess of our lives. We now begin to see that no one else did that. There is a famous cartoon quote that goes like this: “We have met the enemy, and he is us”.

Searching for a power greater than ourselves means that we recognize we have a problem and can finally understand that we were, indeed, insane. When we acknowledge this, and come to believe that this power can restore us to sanity, we have arrived at the second step in our recovery journey.

Many of us had to get to the end of our rope, only to discover all that was left was the knot, before we were willing to consider making the changes in our belief systems and behavior required if we are to stay sober and achieve any serenity, at all.

The Domesticated Camel

Just as the camel was domesticated and made useful to us, so it is that we as addicts and alcoholics can also be made functional and useful to others. When we stay sober we begin to carry the message to others that it may be possible for them, too. By sharing our recovery progress at meetings we help ourselves and others, through being of service.

As the symbol says – “The camel walks with head held high a day at a time and stays for that day completely dry.” That is not only our goal in recovery, but is also a benefit of sobriety, as well.

It has been said that connection is the opposite of addiction. The reward of staying connected to a power greater than ourselves in recovery is that through that connection we can be freed from the burdens that we brought with us, at last.

Turning Point of Tampa

Turning Point of Tampa helps alocholics and addicts find recovery. We recognize that addiction is a family disease. We therefore offer a weekly family support group and an aftercare program for our alumni. Both groups are conducted by a certified therapist.

Turning Point of Tampa offers Medical Detox, Residential Treatment, Day Treatment with housing (PHP), and Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) for alcohol and drug addiction. We also offer treatment for eating disorders and dual diagnosis.

Turning Point of Tampa is here to help you or your loved one. We tprovide a safe environment and a solid foundation in 12-Step principals, in tandem with quality individual therapy and group therapy. We have been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.

Some Interesting FAQ’sAbout Camels

Next time you are at an AA meeting, amaze your friends with the following knowledge about camels.

What are Artiodactyls?

Artiodactyls are an order of mammals characterized by having an even number of toes on each hoof. Both Dromedary and Bactrian camels fall under this classification. Camels, as artiodactyls, are ungulates, meaning they are large, hoofed mammals. Dromedary camels, known for their single hump, and Bactrian camels, recognized for their two humps, are adapted to harsh environments and are crucial for transport and survival in desert regions. Their unique physiological traits allow them to endure extreme conditions and long periods without water.

Who is the famous Camel “Caleb”?

The Geico Hump Day camel was a dromedary, named Caleb. Guess what day it is?

Do Camels store water in their humps?

No, Camels don’t actually store water in their humps. Instead, their humps are composed of fatty tissue, which provides energy when food is scarce. This adaptation helps camels survive quite awhile without food. However, camels are well adapted to conserving water in their bodies. Their ability to intake a large amount of water at one time alng with unique specialized physiological traits help them minimize water loss. These features enable them to thrive in arid environments.

Does a Camel store water in their blood?

Yes! Camels store water in their blood. This, along with the previously mentioned hump, allows the camel to go as long as 10 days without drinking any water.

How much weight can a Camel lose from dehydration?

A camel can lose up to 30% of its weight due to dehydration, and still survive. They are able to regain their normal levels by taking in mass amounts of water, when the opportunity presents.

Is Camel Milk Safe?

Camel milk is incredibly nutritious. Herdsmen that live in various deserts are sometimes able to go up to a month just consuming camel milk alone! This is because there’s no food out there, other than a nice delicious glass of camel milk. Bon Appetite!

How long can a Camel live?

Camels can live up to 50 years.

How fast can a Camel run?

Camels are fast. Camels can get up to 40MPH in short bursts, and are able to maintain a speed of 25MPH for up to an hour. It’s all that nutritious camel milk.

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