Celebrating icons at FFA Camp Muskingum

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CCM/ Carol McIntire Those participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony at Blue Gill Rock at FFA Camp Muskingum are shown above. From left are: Ava Evers, Lauren Thornhill, Kaydence Morris, all Ohio FFA state officers; Allysa Bregal, FFA Camp Board of Trustees chairman; Gerry Marteney, Elaine Painting, Ashton Preservation Association; Matt Mellinger, Easton Construction; Bob Mason, Mason Cement; Todd Davis, FFA Camp director; Jim Sutton, FFA Camp maintenance director; Luke Jennings, state FFA president; Andre Servais, Pro AV of Ohio; Jarrett Stahler, FFA member and camper; Craig Butler, MWCD executive director; Addison Holowitz FFA member and camper; Zeb Casper, Casper Welding; Delaney Moore and Katelyn Kinsella, state FFA officers.

By Carol McIntire


FFA Camp Muskingum officials celebrated a very “Iconic” spot at the Leeville Lake camp and an “Iconic” employee during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Blue Gill Rock amphitheater June 4.

The iconic camp spot – Blue Gill Rock – and the iconic employee – Gerry Marteney- both meet Webster’s definition of iconic: “very famous or popular.”

Blue Gill Rock, has been a popular spot at the camp since it opened in August 1942 on the shore of Leesville Lake in Orange. Twp. 

Camp Director Todd Davis said the large rock is a popular fishing site and has hosted many camp fires, been this site of marriage proposals, wedding ceremonies as well as the place where many men and women changed their lives by committing to stay sober and off drugs while attending a retreat and  the location where many people accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior while attending church camp, all at FFA Camp Muskingum.  

Marteney, who is currently completing her 42nd year as an employee at the camp, is just as iconic as Blue Gill Rock, according to Davis. 

“She started here in 1983 and has welcomed with good food over 60,000 FFA members to the camp and helped serve over 1.7 million meals,” Davis said, in recognizing the longtime kitchen staff member who has announced plans to hang up her apron one final time.

“What does she do that makes her special?  She loves her job; she loves the people she works with and she has treated FFA Camp like it was hers.”

The renovation and update of Blue Gill Rock was not taken lightly, Davis told the crowd of donors, contractors and FFA members seated on the new benches that grace the hill, lead down the hill to Blue Gill Rock and Leesville Lake and provide an awe-inspiring view.

“There were three things we had to do,” Davis said. “We had to maintain the integrity and beauty of the natural setting. Blue Gill Rock had a major erosion problem. We had a lot of erosion coming down off the hill and a lack of drainage. And we wanted to make it handicap accessible so everyone can attend events and be down front. I think we accomplished all of them.”

In order to make the project happen, several things had to come into play, Davis noted. 

“First and foremost, the board had to buy into the project. They jumped in with both feet,” Davis said, introducing members Alyssa Bregal (chairman), Christina Howard, Jim Pierce, Mark Starkey and Adam Staley. 

“Also, because of location on the lake, we had to comply with Army Corp of Engineers regulations and get approval from two agencies: the Army Corps and Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD). We did that.”

The next task was to raise money. 

The original grant application was for a $280,000 project. 

“We have over three quarters of a million dollars in this project,” Davis said leading into how the project became a reality. 

The Timken Foundation of Canton, which has been instrumental in projects at the camp in 1993, 2015 and again for this project, and the John H. and Evelyn L. Ashton Preservation Association, which donated $100,000, are the two major sponsors.  Those donors, along with oil and gas money, allowed the project to become a reality.

The 2024 Ohio FFA State Officer team conducted the meeting and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony along with representatives from the contractors, donors, MWCD  and FFA Camp. 

Davis, Jim Sutton, FFA Camp maintenance director, and State FFA President Luke Jennings cut the ribbon, surrounded by others instrumental in the project and the state officer team.  

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