Young men hike to Carthage to commemorate martyrdom

A large group of young men from stakes in the midwestern United States commemorated the martyrdom of the Prophet Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum by hiking the Martyrdom Trail from Nauvoo to Carthage.

More than 800 Scouts and Scouters made the 23-mile trek in two days, covering the historic trail registered with the Boy Scouts of America. The Martyrdom Trail follows approximately the old Prairie Trail road that Joseph and Hyrum traveled to Carthage just before they were killed.The hike, open to all Scouting units and LDS youth, is sponsored by the Martyrdom Trail Committee. The committee is a group of Scouters organized to preserve and promote the significance of the trail. It was developed in the mid-1970s and has been developed by Scout service projects.

The young men were stationed June 21-24 at Boy Scout Camp Eastman, seven miles south of Nauvoo.

LDS units within a 300-mile radius of Nauvoo were invited to attend and 21 stakes sent groups representing seven states - Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin.

Along the trail, there were 12 learning stations, including stations for old-fashioned pioneer games, Scouting skills with ropes, fire building, service projects and Church history. The hike was climaxed with a visit to the Carthage Jail.

The young men also attended the musical dramatic show "The Nauvoo Experience" at the Nauvoo Visitors Center.

Hiking the Martyrdom Trail helped weld the group with bonds of brotherhood and fellowship. They were divided into two divisions (Joseph and Hyrum) and 12 companies with names corresponding to the 12 apostles in 1844. Each company camped at the same campsite and hiked the trail together. Stake units were grouped into the same company as much as possible.

Larry Bradshaw of the Young Men General Board addressed the encampment. In his talk, "Joseph Smith - A Champion," he spoke of various sports champions including well-known LDS athletes, then showed how the Prophet Joseph was a champion of honesty, courage and charity. He spoke of Joseph's willingness in his final moments of life to try to draw gunfire to himself in an effort to save the others who were with him.

Mississippi Valley Council executive Dave Richart also spoke on Scouting ideals and the need to "Think Before You Act."

At an awards ceremony, each person who made the Martyrdom Trail hike received a patch to document the achievement.

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