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. 


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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

Stanford University Students - Sacred Rok


This Autumn, Stanford University students came for a weekend trip to walk amongst the beautiful changing colors and be in the presence of this reflective time. This trip inspired our senses to communicate and facilitate our commitment to learning from nature.


Kenji Hakuta, emeritus of Educational at Stanford but still involved with the university, really took the lead on this trip with his own personal relationship to nature and respect for the Sacred Rok mission - which is to help youth to respect nature and through that to respect themselves. For the Stanford students to be with Kenji provided the unique opportunity for them to leave their academic minds behind and delve into the possibilities of learning more about themselves and their place in the world through time spent in nature.


Kenji’s example of having a good foundation in academics in conjunction with his own personal nature experiences of solo-backpacking trips and rock climbing provided a great reference for the students of what life-long education is.


Simply being together on the 6 mile Valley loop trail promoted a meditative walk which many of us did barefoot through long sections. It’s always an incredible exercise to flow freely - meaning on natures time, to stop and observe the cliffs above, the autumn leaves, and whatever may seem interesting to the group.


“I feel encouraged to develop my own relationship with land and nature. I am drawn to pay more attention to what I am walking on and to take off my shoes more. Thank you for the work that you do.” -- Stanford Student


I love being a part of this flow that always seems to evoke a deeper conversation from a more open mind to consider the beauty we're seeing; a result of the obvious effect that nature can have on our senses which can awaken the beauty inside us as well.

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Iris Garrett Juvenile Justice Complex - Sacred Rok


For our last camping trip of the season in Tuolumne Meadows we had two young men who were doing time at Juvenile Hall. It’s nothing less than a miracle that these kids can join us while being incarcerated due to their good behavior and the respectful relationship Sacred Rok has built with Merced County.


Our Treasurer, Kenji Hakuta - founding Dean of UC Merced, introduced myself and our organization to Brian Cooley in 2009, who at the time was the Chief of Probation and is now a Sacred Rok Board Member. Cooley fully supported our vision of bringing the youth into nature as a way to destress, connect and create relationships.


For all of us involved in these day trips and camping trips it always creates an opportunity to naturally enjoy our time together. As we’ve said before, Sacred Rok is here to facilitate the ceremony of nature, which we observe as a very powerful opportunity to engage with our senses.


Our youth get a kind of nurturing from this experience that can promote healing as a way to find balance in a modern and stressful world. Through these experiences together we are shown the value of what it means to be human and to respect each other and the world around us.


Through the diversity of our board members and your support all of these possibilities have come together to help promote this kind of education for our youth.

Sacred Rok is committed to making a better day.

Keeping it Sacred,

Ron Kauk - Executive Director

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The North Face Explore Fund Event


In 2010 The North Face (TNF) started a grant program called The Explore Fund. Part of their emphasis is on “Introducing underrepresented communities to outdoor adventures, in potentially new and interesting ways…” Additionally, a goal of the program is to “work with nonprofits that are helping change the narrative of outdoor exploration by teaching independence and self-awareness through outdoor adventures, demonstrating partnership and trust through outdoor activities, and developing outdoor leaders through innovative programing and trips to public lands.” All of this resonates deeply with Sacred Rok’s work. As most of you know we operate solely on funds from grants and donations; the Explore Fund has been instrumental in helping us achieve our mission.

Board Member, Steve Shackelton, manning the table at The North Face event.

Board Member, Steve Shackelton, manning the table at The North Face event.

As a recipient of this grant we were invited by TNF to present our story late October at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, Ca for a North Face employee event. Our Executive Director - Ron Kauk, our COO -Katie Lambert and one of our Board Members - Steve Shackleton represented us and presented alongside a few other youth serving organizations to a few hundred people on what our mission is, how we accomplish that mission and how the Explore Fund helps us. It was an honor to share our vision and experiences with this group and we really appreciate the questions and interest that was garnered.

Part of our goal is also inspire our peers and community members to engage with the outdoors as well as to think about how to get youth in their respective communities involved with nature. Through events like this one we can not only express our gratitude for the help we get but it also provides us with a unique opportunity to reach a broader community and ignite new ideas.

As always, we appreciated your support and we look forward to a future filled with the nurturing of nature.


Katie Lambert

Chief Operating Officer & Nutritionist