Sacred Rok - Nature's Time

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Over the last month Sacred Rok hosted several trips in Yosemite, Pinnacles and Bishop, CA with the diverse groups we work with.

May 6th & June 5th Ron hosted youth from Merced Juvenile Hall on a day trip in Yosemite Valley.

May 6th & June 5th Ron hosted youth from Merced Juvenile Hall on a day trip in Yosemite Valley.

“I have never been on a hike before that was my first time experiencing this type of journey. I thought it was pretty cool. I felt free! I was able to see a lot of different things out there. We saw a baby fox wondering around the park, a pair of squirrels asking for food. Everything was so green and we were surrounded by giant rocks and we even saw a beautiful waterfall. We went through caves and explored all over the park. We basically hiked all day and just kept going forward, it was a wonderful day. “ - Probation Youth

May 7th Ron and board member Steve Shackleton ventured down to Pinnacles National Park for a day trip with youth from San Benito Probation.

May 7th Ron and board member Steve Shackleton ventured down to Pinnacles National Park for a day trip with youth from San Benito Probation.

“I enjoyed hiking at Pinnacles. It was my first time being out there. We got to hear the birds chirp and sing, water passing through the stream, so many different kinds of plants, flowers and big trees. The air was so fresh; I wish I could have saved some. Seeing all the big rocks and knowing people climb them, it's pretty amazing.  We saw two mountain climbers when we were having lunch. We saw squirrels, turkeys and some lizards crawling around, lots and lots of creepy crawly bugs. It got pretty hot, on the way up my lungs were about to pop out. It was nice views, good vibes, we met two new cool guys Ron and Steve. They were cool to be around. I will be going hiking again soon I hope. “ - San Benito Probation Youth      

May 24th - 26th Ron, Katie and board member Kenji Hakuta hosted Stanford University EAST House students in Yosemite for a weekend trip.

May 24th - 26th Ron, Katie and board member Kenji Hakuta hosted Stanford University EAST House students in Yosemite for a weekend trip.

“This has been a great experience to get back in touch with nature. It used to be a huge part of my life and I had a great balance but, I lost it when I came to Stanford. I’m glad I got to reconnect here as well as go at my own pace. I hope I learn from this experience and adopt it to my adult life. Just remember whats important” - Stanford Student

June 7th Ron hosted Merced CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate)     staff on a day trip to Yosemite to orient themselves with our program in preparation for future trips with foster youth.

June 7th Ron hosted Merced CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) staff on a day trip to Yosemite to orient themselves with our program in preparation for future trips with foster youth.

“Our staff had a wonderful day. Everyone walked away saying it was so much better than they had anticipated” & “I enjoyed the relaxed hiking and going to a part of the park people don't typically visit. I like to hike and backpack. I would like to spend more time with Sacred Rok in conjunction with children that my organization advocates for.” - CASA Staff

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We are continuously learning from our experiences with all the diverse groups of people that join us in what we like to call the ceremony of nature. These experiences are bringing us back to the basics, to our foundation as human beings with the natural world. By watching waterfalls and hiking up trails we can feel the rhythm of our heartbeat and awareness of our breath; we are connected with the natural timing, the kind we can observe from the mist of waterfalls swirling around with the wind.

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Sacred Rok’s commitment from the beginning has been to help children respect nature and through that to respect themselves. What we understand now from this commitment is that all children should have the inalienable right to create a connection with the natural world in order to develop as whole human beings and to recognize the responsibility and profound beauty that we are all nature.

This is the knowledge that Sacred Rok has cultivated through these rich experiences of observing our youth in nature and furthers our commitment to brining back balance starting with ourselves.

Its all about working together through communing, communicating and community.

With respect,

Ron Kauk- Executive Director & Katie Lambert - COO

Boys and Girls Club - Sacred Rok

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In late April Sacred Rok was joined by six youth ages 7-9 from the Merced Boys and Girls Club for a day of exploring in Yosemite Valley. Working with this age group provides a unique experience as they are on the cusp of very deep and permanent development.

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Developmental psychology tells us that this is an important time in their lives as they start to understand more complicated ideas and ask more questions about their observations, like cause and effect; they develop more in their language and communication skills and their peer group starts to play a bigger role in their lives. During this time they also need a lot of encouragement from the adults around them and start to show interest in being involved with groups or clubs as they become curious about other points of views and learning how to include them in their day to day.

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At this stage in life there is a tremendous amount of intelligence in our youth to absorb things and this is why we know that bringing youth into nature during this time is paramount to helping them develop into healthy and whole human beings. 

It was profound to be out with this group of young people as it not only evoked a sense of wonder and interest in the youth but also helped spark our adult imaginations. 

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With the natural cycle of the seasons the waterfalls in Yosemite are flowing at max and upon arrival into the park we took our time around them; taking our shoes off and fully immersing ourselves in the natural playground of streams, rocks and trees. It seemed as if we could spend the whole day crawling through the boulders seeking out caves and observing the patterns in the leaves.  Their sense of wonder and imagination was fully open and expanded. 

“Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” - Richard Louv

“Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” - Richard Louv

Over the course of the day it was interesting to see their reactions to the spray of the falls. What was initially panic and retreat from the spray turned into sheer joy and mesmerization by the end, as they became more comfortable and trusting of us and familiar with their environment, one child yelling with her arms in the air, “I just want the water all over me!” 

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We were first hand observers in watching their appreciation and connection to nature develop in just the six hours we spent together. Imagine how deep and meaningful it would be if they were allowed the freedom to express themselves in nature on a regular basis? 

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Throughout our 10 years as an organization we have come to understand more and more how essential it is in the development of an individual to nurture a relationship with nature early on; to evoke an intimate connection to place and themselves, laying a foundation for the rest of their lives. This is what we are dedicated to at Sacred Rok and this is what we mean by Education Nature’s Way. 

Thank you for your support!

Sincerely,

Katie Lambert - COO & Ron Kauk - Executive Director

2018 Annual Report

We are pleased to share our 2018 Annual Report. It is all about working together - your support has made a difference for the lives of many young people.

Click the image to view the report.

With all of your support and interest you all provide us the opportunity to share the healing experience of nature with the young people we serve, as well as with the larger community. 

Thank you for being part of our Sacred Rok community.

Ron Kauk

Bishop, CA - Sacred Rok

I started climbing in Boone, North Carolina the summer I was 15. It was the first time I felt truly comfortable and connected to something, it had been an instant connection with being outside, expressing myself and learning in my surrounding environment of nature. I returned home the end of that summer knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Some two decades later I have an even deeper sense of connection to the outdoors and purpose through a life spent in pursuit of that same passion.

photo by Scott Rinckenberger

photo by Scott Rinckenberger

In early January we received an email from a young woman in North Carolina in regards to doing a possible internship with Sacred Rok for her senior capstone project. She’d been researching the mental benefits of climbing and came across Sacred Rok in an article with an interview with Ron Kauk and was wondering if we had any internship opportunities she could apply for.

Sacred Rok has never really had an Internship Program even though we have had mentoring programs for several years. With her being from North Carolina and my very first roots of climbing having sprouted there it seemed like a very serendipitous thing, as if I were coming back full circle. After a few days of consideration I proposed that she come to my hometown of Bishop, CA for her intern week. It would provide the perfect opportunity for her to see some of the daily business operations of running a non-profit, as well as an ideal playground for some world-class winter rock climbing. Essentially, it would be a little glimpse into something that could potentially be life-changing.

Much to my delight everyone was onboard and during the week of February 20th this young woman and her father made the trip out.

View from the Tablelands overlooking the Owens Valley. Bishop, CA

View from the Tablelands overlooking the Owens Valley. Bishop, CA

The following is Mary’s account of her time:

“Last week, I had the experience of a lifetime, one that I will never forget.

Mary on her first day at the Buttermilks.

Mary on her first day at the Buttermilks.

I am a senior at a small school called Woodlawn School in Mooresville, North Carolina. At Woodlawn, every senior comes up with a topic that they are interested in learning more about and we spend the whole year working on this big project, including journaling, interviews, internship week, and a big final project. The topic I chose was how climbing affects the brain. I fell in love with rock climbing not long over a year ago and since then, I joined a team and have just become obsessed with it. While climbing I’ve met the most interesting people. Everyone is just so incredibly nice and friendly. I think I first started wondering how climbing works the brain from one of my teammates. He’s nine years old and a die hard climber. I’ve never met someone so young with so much strength, dedication, and most of all maturity. My teammates and I always joke around how he is actually an old man trapped in a nine-year-olds body and I started to wonder if climbing made him like that. I started out my project researching how climbing affects developing brains and through that branched out. I discovered how climbing has started to be used to help people with mental illnesses like PTSD, anxiety, and depression and I was hooked.

I came across Sacred Rok through an article I read while researching my topic. Coincidentally, the first article I read was by Katie in Climbing Magazine. <https://www.climbing.com/people/out-on-a-ledge-the-mental-health-benefits-of-climbing/>

After looking into Sacred Rok more, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of and I emailed Sacred Rok about interning with them for my internship week.

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I had the amazing opportunity to fly out and spend three days with Katie and Sacred Rok. It may not have seemed like we did all that much, but I learned so much and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. I got to talk with Katie and Ron for hours about their experiences and the non-profit. I got to climb in Bishop, California with Katie at some legendary Crags I’d never imagined I’d be able to climb in. Since going to Bishop, I found a new stronger love for the sport. I think it's an incredible thing how much we can learn from it. The physical strength, mental strength, connecting with people, solving puzzles, mental control, and truly connecting with nature and our surroundings, truly understanding our place in this world.”


The famous Buttermilks in their winter coat.

The famous Buttermilks in their winter coat.

We were very honored to have Mary come out for a few days. It proved to be not only beneficial for providing her with more inspiration and excitement about all the potential in her future but also gave us a fresh perspective on how little things like this really can be transformative and have a greater impact on the future of our youth.

With gratitude for all the potential that exists within ourselves and for the planet,

Katie Lambert

Chief Operating Officer