Or does apache want to be, or need to be involved as a group?
That depends on how apache (and php) is being run. This is a server administration issue, rather than a wordpress issue. The short version is (most likely for your circumstances) any directory that needs to be written to by the web server, will need to to be given group ownership and permissions that allow the web server to write to it.
Files in Linux also have three file permission classes:
- User -- The user that created the file or directory.
- Group -- Group is a collection of users which allows for groups of users to have permissions on directories and files.
- World -- This is for anyone on the server. It can also be called Public rather than World by some applications.
Consider that all of your files and directories are owned kicker:kicker
If the web server needs to write files to /wp-content/uploads, it can't because it doesn't have permission. Having the /wp-content or maybe just the /uploads directory owned by kicker and group owned by apache - kicker:apache - might give the web server access and allow it to write to that directory. But again, ownership and permissions are directly related to how apache/php is being run, and that's a server configuration issue, so I'm very hesitant to suggest a scheme to you.
Some quick resources:Understanding UNIX permissions and chmod
Ubuntu Documentation: Understanding and Using File Permissions
And that brings us back to the link vtxyzzy pointed you to: Changing File Permissions