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Wade Zick begins as managing director at Pilgrim Firs

Wade Zick, the new managing director at Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference Center in Port Orchard, Wash., has done youth ministry and outdoor ministry for 23 years in San Jose, Calif., and on the Minnesota Conference staff.

wade zick

Wade Zick from Minnesota began in July at Pilgrim Firs.  Photo courtesy Wade Zick

He began on July 1, welcomed to camp by Randy and Linda Crowe, whom he had met when they were in Brainard, Minn., where Linda did an interim ministry.   

Linda was helping on the camp program for senior high camp, and Randy was a counselor this summer at Pilgrim Firs.

In addition, he had visited Pilgrim Firs three years ago, working with Margaret Irrabarra.

Growing up in Grand Rapids in the Reform Church in America, he was not a church camper but knew he wanted to do youth and children’s ministry.

He majored in youth ministry at Kuyper College, a Reform Church college in Grand Rapids, in 1997.   

After a year at Westminster Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich., he earned a master’s degree in education in 2000 at Grand Valley State University.


After joining the United Church of Christ in 2000, Wade served for seven years in youth ministry at First Congregational Church UCC in San Jose, Calif., succeeding Catherine Foote, who is now on the pastoral team at University Congregational UCC in Seattle.

He went from there to serve as youth and children’s minister with the Minnesota UCC Conference, serving eight years. Five years of that time, he directed Pilgrim Point Camp.

In that camp, he saw the role of camp as bringing hope and attention to the local church setting, which to Wade is the heart of local church ministry.

“Camp is a tool to help the  local churches strengthen relationships for congregations within themselves, across the conference and across generations,” Wade said.   

“I understand outdoor ministry to be a tool for local churches and a hospitable place,” he said.

Wade, who considers himself a fan of PNC Conference Minister Michael Denton, knew him from national gatherings of the UCC’s conference ministers.

“I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work under him and with him,” Wade said.

“I came in the heart of the camping season, a busy time, and jumped right in to see the camps in action and meet folks involved.”

One major difference is that at Pilgrim Firs he is involved more in hospitality and less in direct ministry.   

As he looks at hospitality at Pilgrim Firs, he is working to improve the quality of the food and will work on maintenance of the buildings, grounds and trails.

“We are now clearing and widening the trails,” said Wade, commenting that priorities at Pilgrim Firs will include  developing ways to expand program space.

“In the summer, we used space to its maximum capacity.  It will take time to come to know the ministry, program and people,” said Wade, who is taking time to observe life at camp and ask questions.

“To me, this is a learning time,” he said.  “I’ll also be looking at how camp is a ministry for the campers.   

With spending time on the hosting tasks, Wade tended to be observing the programming from outside.

He believes the “gorgeous site” provides a natural setting for lake activities and for hiking.

“I hope Pilgrim Firs over the years will offer space for refreshment and retreat,” Wade said.

For information, call 360-876-2031, email



Copyright © September/October 2015 - Pacific Northwest UCC Conference News


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