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Mark Boyd reports busy seasons at Pilgrim Firs

Many regular groups have been coming to fill the times at Pilgrim Firs Camp and Retreat Center, said Mark Boyd, who began as managing director in January.

Top, retreat attendees for the Northwest Stone Sculptors left several of their carvings on the grounds at Pilgrim Firs. Mark Boyd captures sunset across Lake Flora. Photos courtesy of Mark Boyd

“We have had a busy spring and the calendar is quite full through next winter with different church groups coming for retreats and regular community groups,” he said.

Mark described several of the regular programs that come to Pilgrim Firs for camps and retreats

•Warrior Path, which brings transformation for people suffering from PTSD, has week-long retreats 12 times a year in 10 months.

“It’s a big camp like Lady of the Lake is for N-Sid-Sen,” he said.

• Another regular program that has four sessions at Pilgrim First throughout the year is the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.

• The Northwest Stone Sculptors members come in July for a week.

They bring huge stones that they carve. On Saturday before they leave, they have a public show and sale, using proceeds for charities.

“They have donated and left some of the stones they have carved here on the grounds,” Mark said.

The PNC-UCC Men’s Retreat in February drew 45.

Churches have already  set retreats. They include Richmond Beach in early March, Fauntleroy the end of March, Taiwanese Christian in June, United Churches of Olympia in August and University Congregational, University Men and Bellevue Choir in the fall.

Mark said that the next Midwinter Youth retreat will be held Feb. 9 to 12, 2024, at Pilgrim Firs.

He commented that while COVID concerns affect some camps for older participants, they are not affecting many groups any longer.

COVID concerns are not affecting the many 12-step recovery groups, which are averaging 40 to 90 women participants. Most groups, he said, are 50 to 100.

“The approach at Pilgrim Firs as at N-Sid-Sen is one of providing hospitality. That’s the same at both sites, but the difference is the locations of the two camps and retreat centers, and what each site offers” Mark said.

“Pilgrim Firs, for example, is an oasis in the middle of a suburban area that lends to larger, more adult groups with people who want to walk around the lake or take a gentle walk along the ridge,” Mark explained.

“N-Sid-Sen on  the east shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene as more remote. It is more action oriented with longer trails that go higher on the hillside and are for more conducive to hiking than walking.”

Both sites offer swimming, but the settings differ.

Mark added that there has been an ongoing need to find lifeguards for the summer at N-Sid-Sen.

Mark also pointed out that Wade Zick, who was the former managing director at Pilgrim Firs, had developed a master plan for the camp for the conference to review.

Before moving ahead to see where the proposed master plan fits today, Mark is beginning with making improvements at Pilgrim Firs to address several infrastructure issues related to the septic, water and electrical systems.

He continues his commitment to make the site hospitable to the groups that come.

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Copyright © Pacific NW Conference United Church of Christ News March 2023


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