Youth in Nature

Sacred Rok and San Benito Juvenile Hall have had an ongoing relationship with trips to Pinnacles National Park, which has also led to camping trips in Yosemite.

 Sacred Rok has always been committed to ongoing relationships and this is a great example of people working together to help our youth experience the richness of such beautiful places as TM and the High Sierra. 

These pictures are from our camping trip last week.


Being in the classroom of nature allows us to learn from each other.  It is a kind of honoring of the higher education that the natural world provides that brings us into a sense of unity that can benefit our community.

We are honored to continue to facilitate the ceremony of nature. 

Always thanking you for your support. 

Ron Kauk, Executive Director 

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Water is life. Nothing survives without it. Our bodies, like the earth, are mostly made-up of water. 

In our modern world many of us have access to clean drinking water yet we continue to buy bottled water. Each year Americans use an estimated 50 billion plastic water bottles, with only about 25% of those actually getting recycled.  

The need for water will never go away but our consumption of single use plastics must end. As individuals and consumers, we can make better choices for our health and the health of the environment.

The future depends on the education for our children and it is paramount that we teach them to make the connection to the reality that we are nature; that what we do to nature, we do to ourselves. 

As part of our commitment and responsibility to protecting our sacred life source for the next seven generations Sacred Rok is honored to have partnered with Klean Kanteen on our cobranded 40oz stainless steel water bottle.  We are offering these as a gift when you make a $100 donation to help further our mission of bringing youth into nature to learn Education Nature’s Way and also in helping to protect the Sacred.  

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Life as an Emeritus Professor

Yes, that’s me.  I retired from teaching at Stanford last December and became a faculty “elder” – an emeritus professor of education.  Part of what I wanted to do in retirement was to devote more focus and energy to Sacred Rok, working with Ron and my wonderful board colleagues to elaborate on the meaning of “Education Nature’s Way” through our trips and activities.  

It so turns out that the Stanford Faculty Emeriti Council had a program to encourage us to get more involved with the undergraduate Residential Education program, and I filled out a form indicating that I was interested in helping out as a way to stay connected with Stanford students.  My name on the list of emeriti volunteers got the attention of Anthony Antonio, who is a Professor of Education at Stanford and lives at the EAST House Residence as a residential fellow, and who knew about my involvement with Sacred Rok.  So an idea was born for a connection of Stanford students with Sacred Rok.

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Daniel Scott Smith (a graduate student who staffs the programs at East House) wrote a proposal that connected the philosophy of Sacred Rok to what Stanford students might appreciate about spending time with us and submitted it to the emeriti program.  We put together a weekend that was appropriate to what students in the last weekend of spring quarter might appreciate, given upcoming final exams, term papers, and in the case of the seniors, graduation.  We hosted them with good organic food (me serving as guest chef working with our most amazing cook and COO Katie Lambert) – chicken and vegan curry and “taco truck” out of our camper for dinner, egg muffins and soups for breakfast, and healthy vegetarian Thai rolls and trail mixes for lunch.  

Our connections to nature resonated with their need to slow down and reflect.  We avoided the most crowded waterfall areas, and instead found solitude along various spots known to Ron along the Merced River, Cascade Falls, and El Cap Meadows.  We made time for the students to meditate, write, and sketch.  And on the final day, we found time to share our experiences – and Katie shared some of her climbing videosthat absolutely captivated the students because of her commitment as well as humility that elicited a “Really, that’s YOU?”. 

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Wrote one student:  “One of my most memorable experiences was walking barefoot along the riverbanks and through the meadows, stopping along the way to pick wild mint leaves.  The simple act of feeling the grass under my feet and having to adjust how I walked made me think a lot more about my body and its connection to nature. I had to pay more attention to where I walked, which made me more attuned to each little sensation underfoot - the pine needles, the dried grass, the cool water, the sharp gravel. This made me feel like a part of nature rather than something just trampling over it, and that feeling gave me a sense of internal peace. “

And another:  “We were truly blessed to be able to contemplate life in such a beautiful place with such beautiful people.  I learned so much about nature and myself.”

One student offered us a quick sketch that she had done while sitting in El Cap Meadow, as she contemplated medical school. 



For me, this is exactly how I like to integrate my life.  I have spent my whole career working to improve formal education systems.  Now is my time to focus on education through the laws of nature, and the insights and appreciations that they afford for full human development.  Whether our young people are in prison or a university, simple contact with the elements of nature can spark our humanity in amazing ways.

- Kenji Hakuta, Professor Emeritus, Stanford Graduate School of Education

Thank you Castro Valley High School!

Thank you to the Castro Valley High School journalism class students who came up to Yosemite, especially Mia Babasyan, who wrote this article about Ron.

One student said about the trip, "I came to Yosemite for a journalism field trip and I never met a person who shared so much similarity of my view towards nature than Ron. I love being surrounded by tall green trees and not the grey dirty air I see every morning here in Castro Valley. Talking to Ron and seeing his movie made me think back to the forests in Japan. It showed me where I belong. I think bringing juvenile delinquents to Yosemite is a wonderful idea. Ron is absolutely right about the nature's power of nurture. There is no love in a room with bars and other kids who could easily influence each other to hate. Humans have to realize that we are creating violence by chopping down trees and creating a town full of drugs and alcohol. In nature, drugs and alcohol does not exist as a coping method."