Boys and Girls Club - Sacred Rok


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.


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.


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. 


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!” 


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? 


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!


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. <>

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.


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

Uplift Family Services - Sacred Rok


 As we move into this new year we bring with us what we’ve gathered and learned through our experiences with youth. The act of simply being in nature is incredibly important for a heathy mind and body. It has a spiritual richness that helps orientate us to the value of life, helping to unify us as a group. 


 Looking at the beauty of Yosemite through our senses – hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting the spring water – brings us into the natural harmony that wants to happen. For me it’s been a lifetime of being here to recognize the lessons being offered in the classroom of nature.  


 Learning to walk in your own rhythm, with your breath and heart beat leading you is the way back to the basics. The simple act of placing one foot in front of the other is like setting the timing for your personal awareness in the most natural way. 


 Between Christmas and New Year’s we had five young men from Uplift Family Services in Santa Clara county.  Four of the youth were here for their second trip and for one 12 year old it was his first.  The three days we spent together filling our water bottles at the spring, splitting firewood, hiking up Yosemite Falls trail and talking around the fire at night felt really good, much like an extended family, as we entered the new year. 


 It’s such a great example of how much appreciation there is to simply be together, listening to each other and developing the art of communication.  We like to encourage our youth to find their own unique way of expressing themselves. Through showing them respect and equality they are given more confidence to share how they feel and what they are experiencing rather than always telling them what to do. 

 Sacred Rok is committed to higher education based on natural laws, as an investment for the future of our children and all life. 


Ron Kauk signaturewhiteonblackresize.jpg


Check out the link below that details the healing power of nature and further supports what Sacred Rok has been doing since the beginning,

A Note from Uplift Family Services

I will always remember the very first trip we took with Sacred Rok a few years ago.  The night we returned I received an e-mail from one of our foster/adoptive parents saying, she didn’t know what happened on that trip, but she had never seen, or experienced,  such a level of peace in her soon to be adopted daughter (who was about 12 at the time).  

I was not surprised. It happens over and over with our trips with Sacred Rok.  These “shifts” are also sustained in the youth, and not just an immediate after effect of the trip.  Nature promotes “homeostasis” which is so necessary for youth who have experienced trauma in their lives.  The natural, uninterrupted rhythms of nature restore that sense of balance as well as allow for changes and growth in the mind, body and soul. 


Of course, it isn’t just nature, but the way Sacred Rok leads and guides these trips – think of a guided visualization or meditation vs. just sitting and trying to do it on your own.  Just as in meditation, we first settle our body and mind, Ron facilitates the trips to ensure time when we arrive to adjust to the new setting, slowing the pace and connecting with each participant.  Once settled, we venture out with Ron as our guide. It is full engagement of our senses, and awe inspiring.   As time goes by in Yosemite, each of our beings’ own internal systems come more into alignment, freeing up more energy to be present, to enjoy, to engage more fully and to grow.

Thank you Sacred Rok!

Stephanie Antonioli, LMFT

FCAS Regional Manager

Uplift Family Services