RETOUR AU NAIJA : NYSC Camp

After being released from the NYSC three-week orientation course the number one question people posed was “How did you enjoy camp?” Friends, aunties, uncles, and all others concerned camp was not intended for enjoyment…A better question would be “How did you fare” or “how did you survive” or even simply “How was camp?” To which I would reply that it was an experience that cannot be relived. Throughout the longest three weeks of my live, I received various titles, some of which may live with me beyond NYSC.

2214. Copa 2214.
During my three weeks at the Awgu NYSC orientation camp, and for the entirety of my service year, this is my new identity. Every corps member is given a state identification number based on the state and batch (specifying the time of year) with which one serves. For example, I am serving in Enugu state with the batch B 2015 cohort. In Enugu, there were approximately 2,500 youths who were inducted in batch B 2015, stream 1 (last year batch B was split into 2 streams to accommodate the high number of university graduates). #ThanksObamaBuhari
During the first three days of camp, we were all divided into ten platoons, groups in which we performed various activities such as military marching, NYSC registration, exercise drills, competitions, queuing for food, etc.

French teacher.
That is another name people both within camp (and even outside) know me by. I was 1 of 5 corpers teaching basic French during the morning meditation, the morning session that lasted from 5 a.m. – 7 a.m. every day except Sunday. Practically every morning soldiers ordered us from our rooms at 4:30 a.m. for morning meditation, which consisted of prayer, short encouragement based on a theme, singing of NYSC and national anthems, announcements, and of course French lessons. 4 fellow corpers and I worked closely with the NYSC Head of Lecture committee to inaugurate the first round of French lessons being taught at the Enugu state NYSC camp as well as draft a syllabus and French lessons for subsequent NYSC batches. I guess once a teacher always a teacher. Some of you may remember that I was teaching in France from 2014-2015. Surprisingly enough people still recognize me in town from those early morning lectures. The other day the young lady on the bus next to me smiled and after she read the confusion on my face mouthed “French teacher” and all I could do was grin in return.

Platoon Four.
A.k.a. betta people. Camp in and of itself was stressful with all the paperwork we had to fill, endless queues (in order to complete paperwork, obtain water for bathing, get food from the canteen, money allowances, etc), military drills, and endless activities. The struggle was real y’all…Oh too real! But thank God I wasn’t alone. Most of the activities mentioned above were done with my 250+ platoon members. I don’t want to bore you with my everyday routine—I also don’t want to relive it lol. However, I thought I’d share some memorable moments and people that helped me survive boot camp. Also, I have outlined a few tips that can help save you unnecessary stress and wahala if you’ll be serving in the nearest (or farthest) future.

THNKS FR TH MMRS: Camp snapshots
Swearing in ceremony

**No noteworthy pix from this day. I was pretty salty that day because my platoon coordinator refused to give me my NYSC crested vest until almost two weeks later. So here’s a happy picture from the previous day 😉

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2nd day of camp before being “kitted”… E.g. receiving my whites and khaki

Traditional dance competition

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Platoon 4 won semifinals and finals

Sports/Volleyball Competition

The various platoons competed against each other in various sports such as football and volleyball. 

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Platoon 4 volleyballers

SDG sensitizations

Man ‘o’ war

This two-part obstacle course was one of my favorite camp activities hands down. There were ground level obstacles as well as high course challenges. It actually reminded me of my junior secondary middle school days when my class would go on Beyond The Limits field trips.

“Short” Endurance Trek

SAED: Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurial Development

SAED is an important component of NYSC as it affords young graduates the opportunity to develop marketable skills at discounted rates. SAED programs range from beadmaking and cosmetology to photography and catering. During camp they offered condensed SAED courses to wet our appetites. I joined the shoe and bag making SAED class. Below are the two products I learned how to make. Unfortunately I haven’t honed my skills, though there’s still time. 😉

Carnival

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Shirt designed by the wonderful Odudu, a fellow corper

Bonfire Night

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Like going camping, minus the s’mores

Passing Out Ceremony

On the last day of camp we had a large ceremony on the parade ground where Enugu state dignitaries spoke, selected corps members marched, and we all received our posting letters assigning us to serve in schools, government ministries, NGOs, and private firms in Enugu state.

TIPS

As promised, below I’ve detailed a few tips for Nigerian university graduates about to start their service year. Before heading to camp, one should consider doing the following…

1. Bring your own white tee shirts, shorts/knickers, and shoes. (The amount you buy depends on your personal preference in regards to washing)
2. Bring MULTIPLE photocopies of your documents (ID, academic, registration, green slip, call up letter, etc) and passport photos
3. Budget and bring extra cash for expenses such as drinking water, charging your cell phone, buying food/snacks from mami market (mini yet comprehensive market found in every camp), laundry services, photocopy services, airtime, etc
4. If you do want to buy things such as buckets, utensils, mosquito net, etc (though it’s advisable to buy them in town before coming) at camp wait until you get to mami market instead of buying from peddlers hanging around the camp entrance. Quite a few of them at my camp were selling things at exorbitant prices to welcome us to our new homes in good ‘ole Christian fashion
5. Say goodbye to your loved ones just in case you don’t make it out of camp alive. Just kidding…mostly…

 

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