Many stories exist as to the origin of the nickname "Fighting Camels" and the adoption of a camel as the mascot of Campbell University athletic teams. To date, there is still uncertainty as to why the unique mascot (only one other school in the United States -- and none in Division I -- has the nickname "Camels") was chosen.
According to historian J. Winston Pearce, author of "Campbell College, Big Miracle in Little Buies Creek," the nickname's origin perhaps stretches back to the turn of the century when all but one of the school's original buildings were destroyed by fire. In the aftermath, Z.T. Kivett visited the school's founder and president, Dr. James Archibald Campbell, at his residence.
As Dr. Campbell bemoaned the fate of the institution he had worked 13 years to build, Mr. Kivett encouraged him, "Your name's Campbell; then get a hump on you! We've got work to do." Dr. Campbell thought that Mr. Kivett said, "You're a camel, get a hump on you." Hence the nomadic nickname.
Campbell's athletic teams were originally named the "Hornets." Copies of Creek Pebbles, the school newspaper, in the 1920s and 1930s described the teams as "Hornets." Other references to the athletic teams were "The Campbells" or the "Campbellites."
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Although an official date is unknown, the changing of the mascot to a camel came in late 1933 or early 1934. There is no explanation why the nickname was changed to Camels, only this one sentence was printed in the Jan. 13, 1934 issue of Creek Pebbles: "Eight new men were recently initiated into Campbell's monogram club, which has changed its name from 'Hornets' to 'Camels.'"
From that point on, all Campbell athletic teams have proudly worn the Camel mascot.