Visit Staf Ecolearning Camp to The Netherlands


October 12-13 , 2015 Ferry Sutrisna Wijaya pr, A. Sarwanto SJ, Alexander Iskandar and Shierly Megawati visited Tilburg. The purpose of the visit was to connect again and continue the training in ecological consciousness/spirituality that had been started already during earlier visits of Elly in Ecocamp Bandung, in 2013 and 2014.

The program consisted of introduction to the history and happenings around De Gaarde Udenhout, The Netherlands, ( 1999 -2011), a visit to the place where De Gaarde in Udenhout was and an encounter between a group of us of the circle of De Gaarde, co workers, board etc. to share our experiences. The team of Ecocamp Bandung shared with us how they have started Eco learning Camp in 2013 and work with the inspiration and learnings of De Gaarde ( and other sources) in Bandung now.

Before the group left Tilburg, Ferry Sutrisna asked me to write about this wonderful and surprising event.

October 13, 2015

Quite a group of the circle of De Gaarde had responded to the invitation to come and meet the group of Ecocamp Bandung and to exchange our experience and learnings in our care and concern for the future of life on Earth.

Ect 2

Those who are part of the story of De Gaarde ( 1999-2009) started to share their story of how they got to know it, participated in and how what we know now how those years are still so much a part of our life now. One by one  through special moments if we became part of the circle It was as a wake up call, an invitation. And no one who came could have been missed, we all had and have a very special contribution and role in this great story.


In front of Molenhoefstraat 7, Udenhout. 13-10-2015. De Gaarde now given back to the Earth. Nature takes over! Though this place is now deserted. Now De Gaarde is in our hearts and souls. And the story continues.

We were so surprised how much we are changed and have grown through this experience and how this story is still part of our everyday life. We are pioneers in our own ways. We shared a meal together and continued the getting to know our friends from Bandung.

The story of Eco-Learning Camp, in Bandung.

Our inspirations and experiences of all those years in De Gaarde are shared and taken up in an experiment at the other end of the world, in Eco-learning Camp in Bandung, Indonesia.

Alex and Shierly shared about the beginnings of Eco Camp in Indonesia. In 2002 their second child was born and this event was the beginning of a remarkable process of waking up. ‘What can we offer this child” was the question of Shierly. “Good education” was their answer together. Together with Fr. Ferry Sutrisna they started Eco-spirit camp. A project a Bandung, where they offered programs to children to play in nature, to work on character building and to help children to reconnect with nature and Earth. Places were offered, as a 600 hectare ancient forest at the outskirts of Bandung. Based on these experiences Ferry Sutrisna, pr. wrote in 2012 his dissertation for a Ph. D. in “ Ecological Values in Education” .

In 2012 Ferry Sutrisna, wrote an E-mail to Elly Verrijt asking for ways to learn from my experience and for materials. He got my address from a Jesuit priest, ecologist with whom I had already worked together in retreats since 2010.. He also asked me to give a workshop for the board, staff, volunteers of Eco-spirit camp. It was quite a group that gathered in September 2013 in Bandung. The DVD The Universe Story from Brian Swimme, the Shambhala Warrior Story as passed on by Joanna Macy and told by an Indonesia Sufi Story teller, the words on conveying a cosmic vision to children for their future, through words of Thomas Berry and some sharing about the story of De Gaarde brought to them a broadened vision and set a whole range of happenings in motion. When hearing about the Gaarde they “saw” a Gaarde in Indonesia. It was the right time and the right moment. Not long after that Eco-Learning camp Foundation was born, founded by Ferry Sutrisna and Shierly Megawati and many others. A piece of land was obtained and within a year the first energy neutral building of Indonesia surrounded by a herbal garden and permaculture garden was realized. Many organizations, corporations have sponsored and are still involved in the running of this megaproject.


Ferry Sutrisna, a priest and architect gave a presentation about the project, the many ways in which the principles of green building are put in practice and  the first programs that have been developed. Alex Iskandar, who teaches at several universities ( Quantum Physics) explained about the program and the components of the eco-learning camps. In meantime they have fifteen years of experience.

In the past year, since September 2014, 6000 visitors came to Ecocamp, in programs of a few hours to a few days. They recently finished an Ecological leadership training for 51 teachers ( 10 days) from all parts of Indonesia. And they have trained children for ecological leadership. ( Children of Earth program) The Shambhala Warriors are the students who get a training to help conduct the many programs and groups for the children.


The team showed some movies with snapshots of the programs. It was such a deep experience together: of amazement, of seeing what can happen when the time is ripe and so many people connect to work for a better future. It is remarkable that such deep processes of change happen in such a short time.

The Story continues

On our way home from Schiphol to Tilburg Shierly said: “De Gaarde has a child in Indonesia”. Yes and that child has grown up, finds an own expression of the insights and learnings of a new Earth consciousness, now in the context of the history, culture and Community of Life in Indonesia. Again we see that once each of us responds to the invitation of Mother Earth and the challenge of this moment there is all the guidance and help to move on. And like it happened in De Gaarde before, it continues now here in Indonesia, while all of us, each in our own ways,  gifts and consciousness  are bound together in a common commitment. Though De Gaarde in its physical way does not exist anymore, deep in our hearts there is a Gaarde, a haven of consciousness and love for life and Earth. We carry it within us, wherever we are and go.

We ended the evening with a meaningful ritual, guided by Alex. Like in the workshops they give there, we gave each other a bracelet and put it on, as to affirm our common concern and commitment. So we brought together the Old and the New Gaarde, …..and the Story continues…


Nov. 2015, Elly Verrijt

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