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

‘Common Fire’ is the name of the new mission/service camps

Wade Zick, managing director at Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference Center at Port Orchard, said that to launch “Common Fire,” mission camps serving the Kitsap Peninsula, in 2018 he has had to learn about the communities, culture, economics, nonprofits and people in Kitsap County.

Wade Zick describes new mission/service camps.

The 2018 camps will be two weeks, one is June 24 to 29 and the other is July 15 to 20.

Pilgrim Firs will shift from youth camps to “giving back” to the community, he said.

“There are tons of needs,” he said.  “The Kitsap area has a mix of urban, rural and suburban issues, increasing with an influx of people seeking to move from rising housing prices in Seattle (up 13.5 percent), they are displacing vulnerable and poor Kitsap County residents from their homes, so homelessness is rising.

Other issues include food for families, environmental impacts with population growth, and the clash of population growth and protection of a suburban/rural lifestyle, he said.

In addition, there is a large military presence with 17,000 employed at the shipyard, so social and family support systems are absent in times of financial and personal crisis.

“How can Pilgrim Firs engage  and understand this culture so we can be present in the community, working with area agencies as a partner, looking at the systemic injustices in the community?” Wade asks. “For the UCC, the question is how we can make a difference in the world?”

He said the camp will begin with time to orient campers to the community and spend three-and-half days in service, with late afternoons for camp activities, and evenings to talk about justice, about “going upriver to find out why there is need to pull people out of the water downriver.”

“What are the systemic issues of environment, race, poverty? We will engage in action, reflection, learning about issues and acting,” Wade said.

Mission is about logistics, taking time to focus on the needs, he said.

Pilgrim Firs plans to partner with Habitat for Humanity, the Central Kitsap Food Bank, the Kitsap Community Food Co-op, other nonprofits and government agencies.

Of the $475 cost to participate, $100 will go to the local mission and service partners.

For the Common Fire camps, Pilgrim Firs is inviting local churches to send youth groups  with seventh to 12th graders and adult leaders 21 years and older in a one-to-five ratio so they can continue to connect with each other and carry the mission experience home.

Eighty campers from different congregations throughout the U.S. and Canada will bring their youth groups and adults. While the service camp is designed for church groups, an individual youth may participate in the service week as space allows, joining a church group. Churches will choose an area of focus for their week.

The four areas of focus are housing (building, renovations, landscaping), food (food bank, meal distribution), environment (clean-up, trail work, park departments) and social services (homeless, elderly, at-risk populations).

“We will pair the church with area service organizations that sync with the church’s chosen focus, said Wade.

Each day after breakfast and packing lunches, the teams will travel to service sites and return at 3 p.m. to swim, paddle board, kayak, hiking, fish, relax  until 5:15 p.m. Then they will meet with their church groups.  After dinner, they will join in justice discussions, have vespers and an evening program. 

Thursday they return at noon so there is time later for a “sending ritual” before leaving Friday morning.

Groups must agree to participate in all the aspects of the week. The focus will be both on the development of relationships for the local church and building connections with the other participants through activities and discussions.

All the 2018 PNC summer camps for children and youth—kids, intermediate, junior high and senior high—will be held at N-Sid-Sen.

For information, call 360-876-2031 or visit


Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ News © November-December 2017


Share this article on your favorite social media Bookmark and Share