Sharing my NYSC camp experience has been top on my list for a while. It’s interesting that I am almost done with the program before writing this. The memories still ring in my mind and I know that I need to share with you. Better late than never, they say.
Let’s begin from the top, shall we? This is going to be fun!!
Before NYSC Camp
I applied for the NYSC sometime in September, 2018. There was a batch coming up and, after missing the previous one, there was no way I’d miss the next one. So, I got mobilized, got my call-up letter and got plans running to ensure I served in Lagos.
I didn’t get in with the first stream of the next batch to go to NYSC Camp. In November, my NYSC call-up letter came three days before the day I was supposed to get to camp. What to buy, transport plan (especially for people going out-state), getting a medical report of fitness were supposed to be done within those days. This happens with every single batch, so it is advisable to that bear this in mind and save towards it.
I was going to camp in Lagos! I was definitely excited at the time to this because I wasn’t disappointed in my posting and it was coming at the right time. What I was NOT excited about was NYSC camp experience itself. I wasn’t ready to deal with the Lagos sun and dirty bathrooms.
Over the next two days, I purchased all I needed and made necessary document arrangements/ photocopies according to what friends told me. Unfortunately, I realized later that too much was bought. The power bank and torchlight got no use from me because I charged my phone at Mammy market (with one constant vendor and it was very safe) and there was power before time for ‘lights out’.
The thing about NYSC is that people have such different opinions about their experiences in camp that I realized that mine would definitely be peculiar in itself.
Arrival / Day One Of My NYSC Camp Experience
My friend, Hassan and I met at LUTH, got a Taxify (now Bolt) and finally got to the NYSC camp at Iyana-Ipaja, Lagos, alongside over 2000 Nigerian graduates, on November 15, 2018. Greeted by women hawking buckets, pillows and ID card holders, we finally got into the gate and our suitcases were checked by junior military officers. I hid my extension socket in my throw pillow; they found it and seized it.
No worries, I picked it up just before the end of camp andit works till today.
Day One was just filled with STRESS. All forms of registration and confirmation took place for a couple of hours. We were divided into platoons and we picked our uniforms which we were told to change into immediately we got them. What a way to for the camp experience to begin!
NYSC gave us 2 white shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, a pair of tennis shoes, a set of khaki, 2 pairs of socks, a pair of orange ‘jungle’ boots, an NYSC embossed cap and corresponding shirt. The only things that fit were the shirts, shorts and socks. The people giving the uniforms didn’t allow an exchange so I had to ask other corps members but I never got my size.
The entire process made me wonder why we gave any details online if we still filled countless forms and got wrong sizes. This is Nigeria.
We were assigned to rooms and thankfully, my friend/ classmate, Yewande was my roommate. It actually helped to have someone very familiar around. We were 32 females in a room with two fans, which should have had a maximum of half that number in a ‘normal setting’. Luckily, I got a top bunk bed directly under the ‘better’ fan. After all the registration wahala, I decided to try the camp food- yam porridge and fish- for dinner. It was edible but very unenjoyable.
Adjusting To NYSC Camp Living + Schedule
Day Two involved a rude awakening with the bugle at 4:30am. That thing is too loud! It must be terrible for people living around there who have to be disturbed every morning.
I woke up, brushed my teeth and ran off to the parade ground for the COMPULSORY morning prayers and exercise in the parade ground. Admittedly, it was fun for a bit. Something about jumping around in the morning with strangers in an all-white attire made it awkwardly pleasant.
We’d come back for breakfast and wash-up at about 6:15 am. The bathrooms always had water running, contrary to what I heard about other states’ NYSC camps. We even had a few good shower heads. Cleanliness was sub par, as expected, because you know have overused facilities can be. Just have your bleach.
I hated waking every single day because I never had enough rest and I knew it meant another hot day of stress. Eventually, it did get easier as the routine seeped in.
Most Contributing Factor To My Happiness In Camp
After the third day, I stopped going for the morning exercise and went to the clinic every day to work or continue sleeping. I must admit, being a medic is the BEST THING EVER in camp.
Everywhere was always so darned hot!! I had a shower every night, still pulled through with my skincare routine- which people laughed at me for- and used my sunscreen every morning through the discomfort.
This was the reason why I didn’t get darker after camp.
On this day, I registered in the clinic as a pharmacist mostly because I knew it’d be my key to a less stressful life in the NYSC camp. I was right.
Lectures held every day, in the afternoon, but I always stayed in the clinic because I wasn’t ready to listen to non-educative talk about how to be a good Nigerian under a canopy filled with heat. Plus, I attended to patients and interacted with fellow medics. A win-win.
We started training for our swearing-in ceremony as corps members which was slated for Day 4. Standing under the hot sun doing ‘remove headdress’ was actually pretty unnecessary but then… isn’t the whole of NYSC camp unnecessary? I digress. My khaki trousers needed to be adjusted so I could wear them for the swearing-in but it was huge so I got it and the jacket amended for 1000 Naira, which is expensive for a size reduction (Trust Nigerians to hike prices when the demand is high.)
My Experience Interacting With Other Corps Members In NYSC Camp
Generally, I don’t care much for socials but we were forced to still leave our rooms in the evenings.There were beauty pageants, drama, cooking competitions, SAED (Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurial Development), singing and dancing competitions, comedy night, musical performances (notably that of Mr. Eazi.)
I spent most of this time in the clinic. Other people went to mammy market to hang out while others stayed for the social events.
It was interesting to see fellow corps members put themselves out there. Some of them were praised, most were laughed at, but one thing all of them had was bravery. Stepping out in front of strangers in such circumstances is no mean feat.
People In NYSC Camp… Good Or Bad?
Honestly, the best (and worst thing) about camp is the people you meet. Some people really will make you wonder how they managed to graduate from school with their hot takes on several issues. Others will inspire you beyond your expectations. Those are the ones you keep in your corner.
In week two, I joined the Life Planning and ARH CDs in camp because I was told that we’d meet only once a month, as opposed to the weekly meetings of normal CDs groups. Eventually, I couldn’t follow through with this post-camp.
We had two really nice, polite, approachable soldiers stationed at the clinic. The other soldiers I came across were uptight and constantly shouting to ‘show themselves’. Most of the people I interacted with were medics, my room mates and my Karate crew.
What About Food In NYSC Camp?
I brought a LOT of edibles here, so I had breakfast mostly using those items. Breakfast from the camp kitchen was mostly tea, bread and butter. On the days I felt like, I took the bread but that water mixture they called tea? Can never be Desire’s digestive system holding such. Diarrhea is real.
Before heading to camp, I was told about Mammy market’s (the market in camp) food and how I should be careful or ‘my money will finish’.
There were at least 30 food vendors in Lagos camp. Everything from rice to asun, pancakes, amala, toast, pepper soup, fruit, ice-cream, beer, Lagos camp had it. The best part is that the prices had ranges so there was probably something for everyone. Heck, we even had Dominos Pizza and Coldstone Creamery in camp.
Lagos, as usual, had no chill.
I had two trusted food vendors in camp and I never deviated from them- Chef Chukz whose meals kept me sane and a lady who had the best Oha soup.
My Finances In NYSC Camp
The most common thing I’d heard from friends who had campedin Lagos was, ‘If you are not careful, you will finish your money there.’
I came into the NYSC camp with 25000 Naira cash and was intentional to ensure I didn’t spend any more. I didn’t pay the customized platoon shirt, clinic party and towards the end of camp, I started eating the (horrible) rice from the camp kitchen. Sometimes, I’d buy 100 Naira fried plantain to supplement it. I left camp for a weekend to attend some events so my Uber fare added to my expenses.
I won’t say anyone else should do the same because…YOLO. However, I was NOT willing to compromise this goal so I went with it and I did just fine.
By Day 6, we were given 1800 Naira, our transport allowance which is really little even for me who resides in Lagos and another 1500 for bicycle allowance, a few days later.
Generally, I was intentional with money in NYSC camp and I kept my money at the bottom of my box in a file and made sure it was locked at every moment. I went home with some change from the money I brought and the entire 19800 Naira given in cash to each of us as our first month’s allawee.
I still think it is so disappointing that the federal government expects us to survive on 52 US Dollars (19800 NGN) a month.
Most Memorable Moments In Camp
The most valuable experience I had in the NYSC camp was being a part of the martial arts team. Karate was my form of exercise and fun. I don’t know why I thought to join, but I did. We practiced every day for two weeks for a presentation that was literally only one minute long. I formed some of my strongest camp-borne relationships there and I was proud of myself for pulling through till the end.
The Man O’ War drill (this isn’t compulsory) which involves hopping and climbing through things was pretty fun, albeit dirty, and gave me the funniest pictures and memories.
My Worst Moment + A Valid Life Lesson
On the flip side, the most peculiar experience I had was on the bonfire night. The smoke was terrible, I was already battling a sore throat and it started affecting me. Corps members were tired and trying to escape so they threatened them with spraying sachets of water on our bodies.
I tried to talk to a soldier to let me go to the clinic buthe refused and poured water all over me. I looked and shouted at him, askinghim why he did such a thing even when I told him I wasn’t well. He ignored mebut I was so angry, still shouting until his boss came to calm me down. Iexplained to him, he apologized and told the ‘junior’ soldier to apologize too.He did and started calling me his friend.
Guys, in this life, know your rights and stand by them. No one has the right to be inhumane towards you in NYSC camp and they know. So, stand up for yourself, when necessary.
The people I met and relationships formed are the only giftsof the NYSC camp experience. I still am in touch with them and have beenblessed (or disturbed, in a few cases) by them.
NYSC Camp… In Conclusion
Day 21 was a day of mixed feelings. I was ecstatic to leave the terrible conditions behind but also low-key sad to watch the people I had lived with, for three weeks, go. All we have left, in some of the relationships formed, are now- silent Whatsapp groups.
Truthfully, NYSC camp was quite the experience. This is one of those unnecessary things in life that you truly don’t need to survive but you can just partake in for the memories- even if they are sufferhead ones.
In case you have the options to stay or skip camp, I’d suggest that you stay, take pictures and meet people. The 21 days will pass anyway, so just do it.
Whew! That’s a summary of my NYSC camp experience and arguably my most enjoyable post to have ever written!
PS. For some reason, I can’t find my comment box for this post, so you can’t leave a comment now 😭😭
I’m currently working on getting it back. If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment on my Instagram post here .