Search PNC News for stories of people and churches in our UCC Conference:

Pilgrim Firs builds Pride Garden on grounds

To celebrate Pride Month with communities around the world, Wade Zick, managing director, reported that Pilgrim Firs again hosted people from the community for the Kitsap Pride Picnic on Sunday, June 5.

The event welcomes people at Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference center for a free lunch, lake activities and walks on the trails.

Pride Garden at Pilgrim Firs is the result of the work and donations of many people—cutting trees, making raised beds, planting rainbow colors of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, and arranging them in a plot.        Photos courtesy of Pilgrim Firs

Donations received at the lunch support activities of the Q Resource Center for LGBTQ youth and the July Kitsap Pride event.

The 2022 event was the fourth time for Pilgrim Firs to host the picnic, which in 2019 drew 300 people.

Part of the 2022 activities were to officially open the new Pride Garden at Pilgrim Firs, which Wade said is an expression of its purpose statement “to provide a sacred oasis for creativity and community.”

“Last summer we were given a donation from Bob Roblee in honor of his recently passed partner of 50 years, Ron Johnson. It was designated to use for our new Pride Garden,” he said.

Bob and Ron, who were often referred to as the mayors of Southworth, were instrumental
in many aspects of the Kitsap Pride community through the decades.

Recently they fell in love with Pilgrim Firs from attending various events there, such as picnics and stone sculpture shows, Wade said.

Ron wanted to make sure that Pilgrim Firs would be able to continue serving the community through events like the Pride picnics so he included Pilgrim Firs in his estate planning.

Wade said that both Ron and Bob have had ties with the UCC and Pilgrim Firs. Bob grew up attending the
University Congregational Church in Seattle and Ron was high school buddies with the son of Eddie Madson, the first director of Pilgrim Firs.

“We are delighted that because of their support of the camp and the ways they have been amazing community members, we were able to make the new Pride Garden happen in their honor,” said Wade

The Pride Garden is a 70-foot by 40-foot garden that contains 18 planter boxes and will host a future chicken coop. The garden in the field on the other side of the new basketball and pickleball court, which was given in memory of Sam Martinez, a former camper who died from fraternity hazing in 2019.

Wade said that several of the planter boxes have been sponsored by friends of the camp. The boxes are filled with flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors.

The planter boxes were milled last summer from two trees on site by former employee Marc Ventura and his co-worker Eric Hudson.

Much of the finishing garden work this spring has been done by Ed Salerno, the current artist in residence.

“The plan is for various sculptures to be displayed in the garden and already the site is providing an additional tranquil setting for meditation and small group gatherings that our PTSD veteran’s group has been enjoying,” Wade commented.

“This has been a couple of difficult years for many reasons, and my hope for this June and Pride season was that the world might be filled with more love, more peace and that healing through art, nature and celebrations can mend some of our brokenness,” he said.

More than a year ago, Pilgrim Firs came up with an idea of doing a garden at the camp. Each of the 18 planter boxes are themed colors of the rainbow with pink and baby blue boxes as well.

“We were grateful for tons of help along the way,” Wade said.

“It’s still a work in progress and will always have need for ongoing care and maintenance, but I’m excited about this tranquil, inviting garden,” Wade said.

For information, call 360-876-2031, email or visit


Pacific NW Conference United Church of Christ News © August 2022


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share