When I was mobilized as a prospective corps member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in November 2018, the only presenting joy was because I was posted to Lagos. The willingness and delight I expected before going to the NYSC camp were nowhere to be found. My feelings morphed into plain old nervousness and anger that I had to go through the meaningless program that is NYSC.
As a secondary school student, I passed through the NYSC Secretariat in Lagos frequently, on my way to school. Coming from a home where an enlarged picture of my mum looking rather regal in her NYSC, well… regalia hung endlessly in the sitting room, I had a dream.
The dream that I will study to become an astronaut, graduate and be adorned with the green and white apparel topped off beautifully with orange boots. Conversely, a quarter of that dream did come to being. As you know, I am not an astronaut but I finally got the uniform. However, it did not feel beautiful at all. Going in semi-blind, some friends who told me certain necessities helped reduce the toll of the NYSC camp experience.
On the other hand, before going to the NYSC camp for the three-week orientation, I did not have appropriate thoughts about certain things. However, some of them were very important but I didn’t know until I was already in.
Here are five things you should know before you go to the NYSC camp;
Take On A SAED
Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) is an incentive of the NYSC where different skills are taught in and post- NYSC camp if you’re interested. The range of activities was impressive, think everything from cooking classes to creative writing classes, they were available and free or highly affordable.
I didn’t pay attention to this earlier because I stayed in the clinic all day and honestly wanted to run away from everything in camp.
Eventually, when I saw a pair of slippers and dresses made by corps members like me, I wished I tried, at least, to learn a thing or two. SAED is not a saviour as the government would claim but there’s no harm in learning something new. The time will pass anyway.
On the flip side, I did join the Karate team and I loved it!
No Item Of Clothing Given Will Fit Properly + Buy Rubber Shoes One Size Up
This may be the most random item on the list but it is super important. Before going NYSC camp, you’d buy clothing as you prefer them. The one thing you should definitely do is get rubber shoes.
First off, in case you’re thinking, I hate rubber shoes! They are so uncool. Dear, trust me, no one cares. You won’t either.
You should absolutely get rubber shoes before going to NYSC camp because they are cheap, (800-1200 Naira per pair) easy to wear and clean. Everyone looks weird anyway. No matter what you try to do, you’ll still look like a white fowl wearing a fanny pack, so please, save your Nikes and Skechers for a better purpose.
Also, do not buy your exact size because you will end up like me, wearing them as mules. Get them one size up so you don’t end up chanting, ‘Lazy corper, na you go tire‘ on the parade ground at 6 a.m. in the most uncomfortable shoes. It really sucks, believe me.
NYSC gives you the uniform for free but they are of very poor quality and always in the wrong size (even though they ask for sizes when mobilizing). Nothing will fit and you’d have to find your way by exchanging with other people, fixing it yourself or getting new ones.
Be Mindful Of Who You Give Your Phone Number To
Don’t give out your number thinking, They won’t call me. You will probably meet a ton of people in NYSC camp. Asides corps members, there are laundry people, tailors, soldiers, so there will be a lot of exchanges.
The boy -yes, boy- that did my laundry called me during Christmas to send him money for medication- which I did. Most recently, he asked me to send him money for rent. Now, I know things can be tough but it still rings as weird that he calls to ask for help or to ‘come to my house’.
Unless you’re unbothered by such or keen on blocking people, I suggest you avoid giving out your major phone number. If you do, they’ll call.
Stop Fretting And Save Your Money
Before going to NYSC Camp, I went on an all-out shopping spree. I got everything from excessive clothing to Cabin biscuits to Nutella to Golden Morn to Maltesers. It seemed like I thought was travelling to the desert. My anxiety levels were unmatched.
A number of friends had told me to calm down because, in their words, It is not that serious. If only I had listened. Life would have so much cheaper and easier if I had remained unruffled.
I promise you, you will survive three weeks without Maryland Cookies. This, I promise you!
The only way to go through NYSC camp and the entire service year is to take it one step, one day at a time. Actually, this is probably the best way to live life in general.
EVERYTHING. WILL. BE. FINE.
Stay Glued To Information And Ask Questions!
I was done with internship by July 2018 but I kept thinking the next NYSC mobilization wasn’t until November.
Why? I have no clue.
There were July, August and October 2018 streams I could have gone with but didn’t, mostly because I assumed instead of asking.
Ask questions!! Before, during and after camp, no matter how silly. ASK SOMEONE.
How to leave the camp if you need to?
The best place to get food at Mammy Market? (the Camp marketplace)
Where to render your complaints?
Ask!!! You can always find answers if you ask around.
So, if you want to get through your service year quickly (which I believe you should) keep your ears wide-open for information. Ask people and check the NYSC portal so you don’t have to waste your time.
There will be a follow-up post concerning my entire NYSC Camp experience- what camp looks, feels and is really like. Watch out for that!
Thank you for reading!
Do/ Did you look forward to NYSC Camp? What is the one thing you wish you knew before going to the camp? What was the most useless item you took to camp?
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