Ground broken on project to improve Camp Joseph

Ground was broken Saturday, May 31, for improvements to the Church's Camp Joseph, adjacent to the birthplace of Joseph Smith in Vermont, which is expected to have a positive impact on missionary work in the area. The improvements include construction of a picnic pavilion, restrooms and an amphitheater, as well as road work.

Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy and second counselor in the North America Northeast Area joined with Stake Pres. Richard A. Baldwin Jr. and his counselors, Mark O. Lords and Britt A. Cummings, to begin work at the campground with the traditional turning of spades of soil.About 80 members, mostly from the Montpelier Vermont Stake gathered to witness the groundbreaking ceremony.

The improvements to Camp Joseph are expected to draw more visitors to the camp, which will likely mean an increase in the number of tours at the Joseph Smith Memorial Visitors Center. Tourists can learn more of Joseph Smith's birthplace and his time spent in Vermont. They can also see the foundation of Solomon Mack's home while walking through the forest surroundings.

The groundbreaking is the beginning of a two-phase project that will beautify the campground.

"Phase one of the project will include building the pavilion and restrooms and doing roadwork as well as renovations to the existing site and expansion of a pond and a baseball field, Pres. Baldwin said. It is expected to be completed later in the summer."

Phase two will include the building of the amphitheater, which will be used for gatherings, including meetings during special activities such as Young Women camp and Scouting events. "Phase two will happen next summer," added Pres. Baldwin.

He said the bulk of the work will be done by stake members. Camp Joseph will be open to the public, but much of its use will be by members from several stakes in the New England area.

After the groundbreaking service, Elder Staheli and his wife, Afton, were entertained with a special presentation of the Reader's Theatre - a local theatrical group of Latter-day Saints who performed a presentation called "The Long Road from Vermont to Carthage."

The presentation is a portrayal of Joseph Smith's life, from his birth in Vermont to his martyrdom in Carthage, including scenarios of his experience in the Sacred Grove, the final moments of Joseph's life, and the trials of a prophet's wife.

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