I enjoyed my experience on course G8 1970, but I must admit I got more pleasure and satisfaction from the three times that I returned in the 1970s to assist in the running of the camp. I felt more like an Old Boy and I loved the camaraderie. I had matured into the role. Looking back I suspect that some lads attending Veld and Vlei were reasonably happy to be there but soon left the memory behind them, whilst others to this day carry a fondness of thought, and enjoy reminiscing and swapping yarns.
Let me share the story of my younger brother Neil Solomon. He attended the winter 1972 course, the one which was cut short after ten days because a trainee was diagnosed with contagious meningitis. Neil was slightly built as a schoolboy and wasn’t as robust, sporty or strong as his classmates. At Greystone he found that he had a talent for rock-climbing and for teamwork on the assault course. His light frame but agile upper body strength gave him an edge. It was with rock- climbing that he realised that he was really good at something. It gave him a new found confidence. At Natal University, Pietermaritzburg, he joined the mountain club, and went on to become chairman. He went to Treverton College as a student teacher whilst studying for his HDE, and taught there from 1978 to 1988 and pursued his love of outdoor activity in an educational setting. He put his inimitable stamp on the school by initiating an Outdoor Pursuits Award programme and the Post-Matriculation course, to give Treverton an aspect of education that was missing in his own schooling.
After leaving Treverton and before moving to Zambia to become the founder headmaster of Chengelo Secondary school Neil wrote a textbook for the school called Reach Beyond which was specifically for the Outdoor Pursuits Award programme.
I picked up my copy of Reach Beyond recently and he writes “Let me make it quite clear that I would not even be writing this book were it not for Veld and Vlei. It is almost with religious fervour that I extol its magnificent efforts towards helping young people (such as Neil Solomon aged 17 years). Veld and Vlei changed my life – it’s as simple as that.” Such a testimonial does not get much better.
Neil died in 1997 of a brain tumour and cancer.
Hugh Solomon G8