Green Camp: A Media To Strengthen The Youth As Social and Environmental Change Makers

Monday, 12th August 2019

Young people in Indonesia get exposed to rural livelihoods and learn to preserve the environment by joining RMI - The Indonesian Institute for Forest and Environment's Green Camp. 

There was something different about the atmosphere in Ciwaluh Village, Cigombong Subdistrict, West Java that afternoon, Friday, July 19, 2019. Crunchy, low-pitched laughter from dozens of teenagers from various cities and villages from 10 districts/cities flowed to fill the solemnity of villages located in the southernmost region of Bogor Regency, where one of the upper reaches of the Cisadane River is located. While getting acquainted with each other, they talked about things they saw while walking to the location of the event. Rice fields, trees, alternating with rivers, after previously also seen a view of sand mines at several points, as well as an area being developed into one of the largest entertainment sites in Southeast Asia.

Entering the Ciwaluh village area, one by one the 16-25 year old teenagers walked on a rice field dike and filled a grass field decorated with wild plants typical of the forest. One by one arrived at this field location until a total of 67 people formed a circular formation. They were enthusiastic in joining the Green Camp event which was held by Relawan 4 Life (Volunteers 4 Life) and The Indonesian Institute for Forest and Environment (RMI).

For three days, these young people gathered, shared experiences and learned from the people of Kampung Ciwaluh and Cipeucang and speakers from various institutions, including from the Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park (TNGGP) and the village elders. Carrying the theme “Reduce, Reuse, Refuse”, this Green Camp invites participants to understand the agrarian and environmental situation of the upstream region, to begin understanding land governance issues in Indonesia, while also learning more practical knowledge and skills related to the issue of waste that becomes specter both in urban and rural areas. They also develop skills in processing waste through “ecobrick” manufacturing methods and how to turn organic waste into planting media.

These young people are invited to be more acquainted with each other, learn to analyse environmental and social situations through methods around the village and talk with the local community to get information through in-depth observation methods. They built their confidence to speak in public to account for their findings, as well as enrich their repertoire about the lives of forest peoples and touch themselves with issues surrounding the lives of forest communities that daily intersect with forest ecosystems.

The choice of the theme “Reduce, Reuse, Refuse” itself was carried out, not only because waste is a universal issue faced by almost all regions in Indonesia, but also because of the needs of the community of Kampung Ciwaluh and Cipeucang who are continuing to develop community-based ecotourism managed by youth, where waste management is becoming one component in it. This ecotourism program is now one of the entrances of the Ciwaluh-Cipeucang community to gain legal access in the Conservation Partnership scheme to tourism areas and their work which is now under the management of TNGGP.

This Green Camp is the 6th Green Camp held by RMI since 2011. However, since 2015, this activity has been managed by a platform of volunteers and young environmental facilitators named Relawan for Life (R4L) as an effort to empower young people in environmental and agrarian issues. The facilitators of this activity are young people who have participated in Green Camp in previous years. Efforts to regenerate the facilitators are continuing through this Green Camp.

Since its first implementation, Green Camp was held to provide space for urban and rural youth, including young people from indigenous communities to learn from each other, gain knowledge of the ecosystem and agrarian situation in the region where Green Camp is held. Green Camp has been organized in 5 locations so far; in the production forest area in Bogor Regency and in the village area which is in a landscape that also has a conservation function, the Gede Pangrango National Park (in Ciwaluh, Bogor Regency, West Java), Halimun Salak National Park (in the traditional area of Kasepuhan Karang, Jagaraksa Village , Lebak Regency, Banten) and Bukit Dua Belas National Park (in the Orang Rimba indigenous Peoples area, Merangin Regency, Jambi).

RMI realizes that the younger generation has the ability to channel their energy in developing knowledge so that it can be transformed into concrete actions to bring about change. Unfortunately, they are often not touched by various movements and information that enable them to become part of citizens, through knowledge that exposes them to the real situation in society, which is also related to environmental management and natural resources. The absence of this learning medium is clearly seen in rural areas. 

Related to this, Green Camp was held to sharpen the awareness and sensitivity of these young people related to the environment and social factors as  one of the important components in life. This meeting between rural and urban young people was also held to build solidarity between them. Furthermore, the knowledge, skills and solidarity that are built are directed to make them a generation that has environmental and social concerns.

In the 6th year of its implementation, Green Camp has become a space that was successfully delivered in a way that is close to nature, integrated with the real situation faced by the community, to transfer knowledge and train skills. Without tables, chairs, and without the rigidity of adults who are usually perfumed with complicated bureaucracy and drab routines. More than 400 people have participated in Green Camp. Some people who have participated in Green Camp in previous years said that learning in this event was very touching and made an impression.

Fithar, one of the 2019 Green Camp participants from the Groupertri community who has twice joined said that he got a lot, more than his knowledge and skills since joining the Green Camp for the first time in 2017, so he was looking forward to the next Green Camp and was happy to be able to take part back. “From Green Camp I came to know many social and environmental issues, and added many new friends too,” he said with a look of motivation and strong energy.

Fadlu, one of the Green Camp participants from the Teens Go Green community who is currently studying at a university in Depok expressed his enthusiasm to participate in this activity for the first time. At first he was motivated to find out more about the relationship between urban life and village life, it turns out that in this Green Camp Fadlu actually gets further than he imagined. “At this Green Camp, I am more aware of the impact of waste on the environment, and I also know about alternative sustainable waste management. In addition, I am very eager to get to know the situation of people in rural West Java, and compare with my great situation in rural areas in Pagar Alam, South Sumatra ”.

This year, the Green Camp was being participated by River Watch Group, Suara Muda Nusantara, Teens Go Green, Dispora, youth from Cibarani village, Wates Jaya hamlet, in Lebak and Sindanglaya, Bogor regency, as well as public youth from Jakarta and its Greater Area.

*Story by RMI. Link to the original story can be found here.