As we begin the new year, I wanted to express my appreciation for your continued support of Sacred Rok’s mission.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 9 years since we took our first camping trip with a small group of foster youth from Merced and started creating our circle of those who appreciate education, nature’s way. 

With your investment, we have expanded our work to include young people involved with Merced Probation as well as youth-serving community organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Merced Youth Council, Uplift Family Services, and others.  And, with your support, we have found ways of staying connected with young adults who are no longer with these services.


One of the young men who we worked closely with while in probation has continued to come up to Yosemite.  We have been working together through mutual respect to promote our common understanding of nature as a healing place.  This has proven the potential of a long-term relationship. While incarcerated he joined Sacred Rok in over 13 trips, and now he continues to work with us, helping us to shape our message. 


In his own words, “Life is too short to be sitting in a cell for the rest of your life.  It might be a slow progress but if one kid changes, he tells his friends, and then they are interested in it.  I was talking to a friend who was having trouble and ready to give up on life, and I told him that I’ll go on a hike with him in Yosemite, and he’ll change his mind.” 

Here is a picture from several days ago getting some spring water.  The water has provided key significance about the flow of life and has brought meaning to appreciating the elements of nature.



Ron Kauk - Executive Director

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Invest in our shared future - Please help with a year end gift

Imagine what it would be like to be a teenager locked in a jail cell over the holidays.

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After every Yosemite trip Sacred Rok meets with the kids at the juvenile hall classroom for lunch and to share stories and reflections from being in Yosemite.  There are also writing prompts.  Here are some responses to the prompt, “If you could have one Christmas wish, what would it be and why?”

“I would wish to be with all my family so I could spend the holidays and time with them.”

“To have my older brother home because he is in prison for 28 years, and we have a bond that we share like no others.”

“To spend time with my loved ones that are gone and the ones that are here.”

“If I could have one wish granted, it is that I could go home for the holidays and spend time with my family, most importantly my grandma because she is not doing well.”

“If I had one Christmas wish it would be for me and my two older brothers (who are in prison) to spend the holidays together whether it be in prison or on the outside. The reason why I want this wish granted is because I have not seen or held my brothers in almost two years.”

When the kids get out of juvenile hall, they lose this support. They often stay in touch with Ron through Facebook and text, and express the desire to come back to Yosemite. We want to offer them the support they need to rebuild their lives.  

My name is Anthony and I'm glad there was a program like Sacred Rok to give me another chance. Without Mr. Ron Kauk making it possible for us and our Yosemite trips I don't believe I would have come this far.”

Anthony is one of our Sacred Rok youth from juvenile hall.  We cannot use his real name because he was incarcerated as a minor, after growing up in a family fractured by poverty and substance abuse.  Sacred Rok is like family to him.  He said about one Yosemite trip:

“One of my favorite memories is when we went to a restaurant with Ron and sat down like we were a family gathered up at the dinner table, enjoying a great meal, joking around, and enjoying life.” 

The trips to Yosemite are transformational – experiencing the healing ceremony of nature and developing mutual respect with trip leader Ron Kauk.   

We want to continue to offer the opportunity for Anthony and other young people to experience nature after they get out of juvenile hall.  

"It's really a blessing when you realize how much a person cares about trying to teach the world and not only what he knows. It was a type of privilege to be with Sacred Rok and achieve more knowledge and motivate me to do better. I lost time with my family but now I'm working as a construction interior repair team member and I'm only seeing me doing better.  Thank you Sacred Rok for giving me another chance.”

Imagine helping these young people feel safe and find their voice, knowing that they are loved and trusted. And the Sacred Rok model is all about building relationships - we need a mentor/staff to support Ron Kauk, help with transportation, and build a connection with the kids.

And this is a bargain - it costs more than $90,000 a year to keep a youth locked up.

As we reach the end of the year, we want to thank all of our supporters for helping us to connect youth with nature.   

Best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year, hoping for peace and human kindness, and thinking of those less fortunate.

- the Sacred Rok Board - Ron, Nancy, Kenji, Brian, Lamar, Lucy, Milbrey, and Steve



We achieved our #GivingTuesday goal!

We raised $15,000 on #GivingTuesday, thanks to the wonderful Sacred Rok community!

The funds will support the purchase of a new vehicle. We are looking forward to expanding our services to provide aftercare for young people who have exited from Juvenile Hall, through transportation to Yosemite to share day trips and the ceremony of nature with Ron.

We had $7,500 in matching donations, which matched $7,500 in donations received for the campaign. That means that the value of every donation was doubled. One of our donors said, "This is an affirmation of the good work that Ron and the Sacred Rok team are doing." 

Thank you to the Sacred Rok community.  We did not do this alone - it took all of us to do it together.

- The Sacred Rok Board - Ron, Nancy, Kenji, Brian, Lamar, Lucy, Milbrey, and Steve

And here is what Ron and the Bear Creek Academy youth were doing on #GivingTuesday - they are why we are here.


Give a gift that will give for years to come — transform a life

#GivingTuesday is Tomorrow!


Thank you so much for being an important part of the Sacred Rok community.

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, the international day of giving, and we are asking for your support to help us to expand our services by donating at  Our goal is to raise $15,000 to help us with a vehicle, a house, and a new staff mentor to assist with the youth.  We are already more than half way there!

One incarcerated young woman said, “When I go to Yosemite I feel like I can honestly be who I am.  I can escape my problems in a healthy way.  I take that first breath of fresh mountain air, and I inhale nothing but good positive energy, and when I exhale my problems are released out of my body.  I love the beauty of Yosemite.  It encourages me and gives me hope that I can make my life beautiful too.”

I know that you share our passion for the value of helping young people to experience what Ron Kauk calls the healing ceremony of nature - as he says, "Without a doubt, the healing power of nature is real."


What is the impact? One incarcerated youth, “Tony” (names of incarcerated minors are confidential), said: “While I was standing alone and enjoying the view of nature, the waterfall, and the rainbow, I began to look to my left and look to my right and notice no one was by my side. At that point I began to realize it’s all on me to make the best of what I have, where I am, and where I’m going in life.” “Tony” has since gotten out of Juvenile Hall, and has a job, a partner, and a baby. He keeps in touch with Ron by text and Facebook, and has asked Ron to visit in Yosemite so that he can again experience the reality and ceremony of nature. But he has no way to get up to Yosemite and no place to stay if he gets up there. 

Sacred Rok and Ron have been working with Merced County Juvenile Hall for 8 years, and it is so clear that the young people need a place to go when they get out — just for a day or two or a week for respite from their day to day pressures in the neighborhood. Ron keeps in touch and considers these young people as part of the Sacred Rok family and community. We are raising money to expand our services for aftercare.

And your donation is a good investment — it costs more than $90,000 a year to keep a young person in juvenile hall!  A donation has immediate and direct impact, since our first aftercare trips will be in December. 

We all know the healing power of nature, and the difference it makes for a troubled young person to learn to sit on a rock or by the river, listening to the rushing water, bearing witness to the granite cliffs, and building a relationship of trust and mutual respect with a caring adult.

Thank you so much for making a difference to Tony and others like him.

I personally support Sacred Rok with both my time and money because I see the impact it has on the youth. One foster teen told me that she had been through so many bad experiences that she always felt she was unimportant and that her life didn't matter. Then, when she lay down in the grass at the Tuolumne Meadows Campground and looked at the night sky, she realized for the first time that her life had meaning and purpose. Her epiphany brought tears to my eyes. 

We know you have your own reasons for supporting Sacred Rok, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Please share this link with any of your friends, family, or colleagues who might want the opportunity to invest in Sacred Rok and help to transform lives.

Nancy Goodban, Sacred Rok Board Chair, on behalf of Ron Kauk, Executive Director