You’re not supposed to like camp. People don’t look forward to it at all. I’ve heard so many horror stories. And people go out of their way to avoid doing the camping part of NYSC (or all of NYSC in general, but especially the camping part). And while not everything was peaches & cream, I actually have some fond memories of my time there. Here’s why:
1. My Platoon – I had an awesome one.
To create a little organization during camp, the attendees are broken up into 10 platoons. Your platoon is automatically assigned during registration. Once in a platoon, you’re with them for the duration of camp. Important documents and meals are collected by platoon. We have inter-platoon competitions. And of course, we line up on the parade ground twice per day by platoon.
I’m not sure why, but my platoon was one of the smallest ones. Many of us were convinced most of the pregnant and married women who chose to redeploy were assigned to our platoon. But I think our small size enhanced the camaraderie between us. My group was actually so hilarious. I don’t even know why. We were very goofy but could get our ish together last minute to pull off some pretty great stuff. For example, when it was our platoon’s turn to be in the kitchen, we made THE best egusi soup. I was also on my platoon’s volleyball team and we won the tournament. I also paraded for my platoon. We didn’t win that one, but we all smelled foul play.
2. My Hostel – Again, awesome
Not sure why I kept ending up in the smallest groups. But my hostel definitely had the smallest number of people occupying the bunks. We were the last hostel in the row, so it made sense that the other rooms would be full before ours, but I didn’t realize just how full the others were. It made for lots of gisting and getting to know each other better. The police and solider women that came to wake us up even liked us! They would come to tell us to get out, but we would just shower them with compliments and gist.
3. SDGs – Everyone, everywhere
Throughout camp, there were opportunities to take extra courses that would certify us for certain things or dictate what Community Development Service we would be in. I chose to take the three day intensive course known as the Sustainable Development Goals, where we were trained on becoming development knowledge facilitators. Not only did I get to take the class, but I was also voted class governor. Of all my experiences at camp, being a part of this group had to be the highlight because it gave me a chance to meet some of the most passionate, dedicated and intelligent people at camp. A lot of people there were enthusiastic about the mission of the SDGs. Even after the three day course was over, members of the SDGs course still chose to come together and organize a clean-up day for the camp and sensitize other campers about sanitation and development practices. Now in Abuja, I’m part of the SDGs CDS group and we meet up every Friday to discuss ways of meeting the goals and encouraging others to do so.
4. OBS – Communications students will always be the most fun
I think I just got a chance to with the very best groups at camp. The Orientation Broadcasting Service is in charge of keeping the camp entertained and informed throughout our three weeks there. They have speakers that play music and radio programs throughout the day (except when we are supposed to be on parade). They also made announcements and organized the social activities throughout the evening. The group consisted of fun loving people excited about communications, broadcasting and event planning.
5. I took a tailoring class!
The last week and a half of camp consisted of SAED lectures: Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development. The point of the SAED lectures is the prepare corpers to be self-reliant and entrepreneurial instead of waiting for an office job that might not come. They have a vast array of offerings from poultry, fishery, beading, to ICT, cooking & catering and make-up & hair dressing. I signed up for the tailoring class and learning how to use a manual sewing machine. I also learned how to make a throw pillow by hand and even got to present for our class at the end of the program.
6. I learned more about Nigeria & myself
Now this is the part where I quickly get real and tell you what I actually DIDN’T enjoy. But my optimistic self won’t let me complain the whole time and I’m actually going to look on the bright side of this. There were a lot of things that actually annoyed me about camp, but I think I will save them for another post, because it’s just THAT long. Basically, this one power hungry official that yelled at me, juveniles making fun of my accent and trying to waste my time, and the pomp and circumstance that went into receiving dignitaries taught me a lot about Nigeria. But it also taught me a lot about myself and the best tactics for responding to situations that annoy me. We didn’t exercise as much as I thought we would, but I was pleased to see I wasn’t all that out of shape!
7. New friends!
So thank goodness some people are juvenile and annoying because it made it super easy to weed out who would definitely NOT be a friend. From my platoon to my hostel to SDGs and OBS, I made a handful of friends from across camp. And I know many are friends that will last a life time. 🙂
8. Growing in my Faith
Interestingly enough, some of the friends were really instrumental in helping me on my journey to grow closer to God. Through prayer, bible study, and just being who they are, I really got a chance to learn more about what it takes to grow in my faith. It’s funny how God puts the people you need in your life just when you need them the most and often when you were expecting it.
9. My camp was actually pretty & chill
Minus the annoying flies and the man that yelled at me, my camp experience actually seemed pretty chill. I remember the horror stories I’ve heard and what my friend Chineme told me so I was ready for the worst. I mean, of course there were piles of trash and people throwing pure water bags everywhere, but the camp was well laid out and some parts were actually pretty. The soldiers were strict enough to make sure we got our act together, but I didn’t really see or experience that much shouting and humiliation. So I’d have to say, all in all a good experience.
So there you have it! All the things that I enjoyed the most about camp (finally right) and some of my favorite pictures! Anyone who knows me, knows I love being involved and busy so three weeks of lots of activity to get into? I was just in my element. And there was hardly any service, so not distracting internet for me! Not everyone’s experience will be the same, but here are some ways to prepare for any NYSC camp. Those that enjoyed this post and are in the upcoming Batch, stay tuned and subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss other posts about camp. And those that are curious about number 6, I’ll be posting my expose soon too. As always, subscribe and let me know your comments, thoughts and questions below!