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Online newsletter reports on Pilgrim Firs programs over 2018

Kaila Russell of the Outdoor Ministries Committee reported that in the summer and fall of 2018, Pilgrim firs welcomed 10 new groups and camps among a total of 42 camps and groups.  It hosted four wider community public events and its income ran about 10 percent higher than budget as it welcomed more than 2,100 campers and guests.

During the fall, the PNCUCC Board of Directors adopted a purpose statement for Pilgrim Firs: “Pilgrim Firs provides a sacred oasis for creativity and community,” she added.

That purpose will guide its story and give insight as it sets priorities for improvements and funding.

“How might this purpose statement strengthen our wider impact into the communities and groups we are currently serving? Imagine what may grow from our intentionality of being a sacred oasis for creativity and community!” Kaila said.

Wade Zick, managing director of Pilgrim Firs, reported that Common Fire, the mission-based youth camp program, welcomed 29 youth and leaders from Chicago for a week in June.  They partnered with Rebuilding Together on five worksites making homes more accessible for low-income and disabled people.

“Fox Island UCC members led the work projects and look forward to being involved again next summer as we welcome groups June 23 to 28,” Wade said.

“Part of each day was spent doing service work in the community with the rest of the day spent having a camp experience at Pilgrim Firs. Besides swimming, canoeing, hiking, and hanging out, there is evening program helping youth focus on the systemic issues that foster situations that many homeless, disabled and veterans in need are currently facing. Through discussions, youth came to realize that changing systems takes time and hard work,” he said.

In June, Pilgrim Firs hosted about 150 people from the community for a family fun picnic, music, lawn games, crafts and hikes as part of Kitsap Pride. A grant from the national Outdoor Ministry Association helped underwrite the cost of this event continuing to make it free for the community.

Over the past three years, nearly $5,000 has been raised from this picnic to support the Q Resource Center for LGBTQ youth in Kitsap and the Kitsap Pride Event.

Nearly 80 senior high students and their leaders from around Western Washington gathered for leadership training in late August led by Planned Parenthood.

Students were given tools for leading peer groups at their schools to combat bullying, build safer communities for LGBTQ youth, and look at ways to improve their own leadership skills.

Because some groups are too small to have the whole camp to themselves, this past summer several weekends had groups from as many as three of UCC churches sharing space: Liberation, First Christian Taiwanese and Prospect UCC churches shared one weekend, and Mercer Island, United Churches of Olympia and St. Paul churches shared Pilgrim Firs another weekend. 

“While the intention was often separate events, something amazing happens when people gather to share lives, share stories and share meals,” said Wade.

Mid-Winter Youth Retreats are being held Jan. 18 to 20.

The Men’s Retreat is Jan. 31 through Feb. 3.

On Nov. 28, Pilgrim Firs was selected for the 2018 Best of Port Orchard Award in the Conference Center Category by the Port Orchard Award Program, which every year identifies companies that have achieved “exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category.”

For information, call 360-876-2031 or visit


Pacific NW United Church News - Copyright © January 2019


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