The original vision for Scripture Union Independent Schools emerged over 40 years ago. Counsellors came alongside Chaplains and Heads of High Schools and assisted them with making the Christian Faith relevant and meaningful to their pupils. Whilst recognising the value of a personal faith for every individual, it was also understood that these young people, could one day occupy positions of influence and leadership in South Africa and beyond and so Christian leadership was of paramount importance.
In the mid 1990’s a process began of investigating SUIS owning its own “Camp and Conference Centre” for holding its teenage camps.
In November of 1998 the idea became a reality when Hylton and Jenny Green, the owners of Middledale Farm near Ladysmith, offered 4 hectares of their land, on the banks of the Tugela River downstream from the Spioenkop Dam and nestled under the famous Boer War battle site of Spioen Kop itself. This gift was accepted by the SUIS Board and in April 1999 a Development Committee was formally appointed to take responsibility for moving the project forward.
The Em’seni Story Begins
Thus began a long and sometimes arduous process of creating The Spioenkop Trust to own the land; the design concept discussions; planning permission approval; dealing with lifting a land claim; raising finance; appointing contractors and finally construction. Eventually the first buildings were ready for use in 2005.
This whole process was only accomplished through dedicated work by volunteer SUIS Board members, sustained effort from the staff, and heart-warming commitment to the concept from architects, engineers, surveyors and lawyers. Deeply humbling was the incredible generosity of all the donors whose gifts, both large and small, turned a dream into reality.
To date over R 7,500,000 has been invested in the site through the extraordinary generosity of donors. The facilities include a large dining hall, large conference hall, small conference room, fully equipped modern kitchen, ablutions, a house for the SUIS staff, a house for the Em’seni Manager, a self-contained apartment for 9 SUIS Summit Team members, a swimming pool, a landscaped playing field with underground irrigation, and accommodation which can cater for 156 guests.
Numerous activities have been developed for adventure activities on camps and are being constantly upgraded.
Extra accommodation is planned in future development along with exciting wilderness and bush camps.