Camping facilities built at birthplace of Joseph Smith

The Montpelier Vermont Stake observed the anniversary of the end of the Prophet Joseph Smith's ministry by dedicating Camp Joseph, a new camping facility built by members and non-members at the Prophet's birthplace here.

Despite stormy weather that caused widespread flooding, nearly 300 people gathered at Camp Joseph to hear Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy and president of the North America Northeast Area offer a prayer during morning dedicatory services June 27."There is such a strong spirit on this beautiful site," said Pres. Richard A. Baldwin of the Montpelier stake. "We wanted to draw people to the area to feel that spirit and increase their testimonies of the Prophet Joseph and the Restoration."

Camp Joseph includes a 40-by-50-foot log lodge, covered pavilion, 15 log cabins, restroom facilities, an athletic field, an archery range and a pond for swimming. An assembly area for outdoor performances will be added next year.

The new facilities make it possible for individuals, families and Church groups to stay on the site where Joseph Smith was born Dec. 23, 1805, since there are few hotels or motels in this rural area of Vermont.

"People go there and feel something," said Mark O. Lords, first counselor in the Montpelier stake presidency. "It changes feelings and it changes their lives. Now, with Camp Joseph, we can offer them a place to stay."

In his dedicatory prayer, Elder Jensen said that Camp Joseph was created to help youth develop testimonies and to strengthen the testimonies of adults.

"It has been a privilege to have this assignment, and I trust this endeavor will richly bless the lives of many people," Elder Jensen said.

The camp has clear ties to the Book of Mormon and Church history. Each log cabin is named after a Book of Mormon prophet. A small camping supply store is named "Emma's Emporium."

Much of the labor to create the facilities was donated. "More than 1,000 people have come here to work so far this year," said Beth Lords, a full-time missionary serving with her husband, Spencer, on their third mission.

"Some people take their vacations, some bring their families. Scout troops, youth groups, Church organizations, wards, branches and stakes come to help," she said.

Elder and Sister Lords are parents of Pres. Lords and are serving as directors of Camp Joseph.

"Many comment on the serenity and peace they feel here," she added.

Margaret McClure, an 85-year-old non-member from Indiana, came to paint with her member son and daughter-in-law from the state of Washington.

"I feel close to God and nature here," she said. "I feel so happy, peaceful and relaxed."

Another visitor who came to work and had been less active in the Church for 25 years spent three days of his vacation working on Camp Joseph.

"I came to help out but also to resolve some inner peace. I have received much more than I ever gave," he said.

Slates for the lodge floor, plus hearthstone for a fireplace, were donated by the Teran Slate Co., of Poultney, Vt., a local company owned by non-members. Other non-member plumbers, electricians and construction workers also donated time and materials.

"Countless hours have gone into this facility in the last two years," said Pres. Lords, who coordinated construction.

In addition to camping, Camp Joseph will be used for bishops retreats, priesthood leadership meetings, ward and stake activities, youth conferences, ward socials, young men and young women camps and other activities by stakes from the surrounding area of New England and eastern Canada.

Dedication services were threatened by rain that had fallen steadily during the night, totaling seven inches of rain in a 48-hour period in central Vermont.

But the rain ceased about 30 minutes prior to the dedication, then resumed during the closing prayer. Those attending the dedication were required to take a variety of detours as they headed home since many roads were closed due to flooding.

"It has been a monumental effort," said Pres. Baldwin. "It's been wonderful how people have come together to make this facility."

Reservations for facilities can be arranged by calling (802) 763-8198.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed