It’s crazy to now be on this side of the NYSC life (as in, in the throws of it, I’m looking forward to the its all behind me part). It seems like just yesterday I was constantly pestering Chineme for information to get me ready for nysc camp. And now, I’m helping one of my cousins prepare.
It can be hard to know what you’ll need and what to expect from your NYSC camp experience, but have no fear, Omolayo is here. While the information is still fresh in my mind, here are some tips for getting ready for your NYSC Camp experience.
BEFORE NYSC CAMP
Shopping & Packing List
It’s important to have a shopping list and a packing list so you already know what you have, what you need and what you will have to buy. I was able to make it into one list. The picture above is my own list and it’s a mix of information I got from the NYSC website, my cousins and friends that have camped and my own personal preferences (for example, lots of people didn’t bring a pillow).
Certificates and Documents
Get all the certificates and documents you need ready in due time (for example, your certificate of fitness). They also now require a meningitis shot, so just read the call-up letter thoroughly before someone embarrasses you at the camp. Then make copies of everything. Everyone suggested I make three copies of everything and it was too many for some items and too little for other items so I would say it’s a perfect number. Oh! And put them all in a neat folder so they stay together and stay neat. That’s one thing I forgot.
Have Money Ready
Preparing for camp (all the stuff on your shopping list, transporting yourself there and back and general things during camp) can be VERY expensive so just start getting your money in order as soon as you can. From even just registration, making passport photos, not eating bland food throughout camp and other necessities, the whole NYSC experience EATS money. It’s actually quite annoying. But if you budget and plan ahead you don’t have to be broke.
As far as how much money you need during camp, it’s all up to you. It depends on how often you think you’ll eat at the Mami Market (market inside all camps) and how you are planning on getting back. The opportunity for POS withdrawals is also available (there was an ATM in camp, but it was almost always broken or empty), but that costs you money. It’s good to try and have the amount of cash you need and spread them around your suitcase.
Some things you will need money for during camp are: passport photos (yes, in addition to those you bring), photographs that the pros take, photocopies (you’ll get new documents you want copies of), certain groups you might join (see below), personal things.
DURING NYSC CAMP
Ask lots of questions (especially to double check you are in the right line) and also ask two to three people the same question before you go running off across camp with miss information.
This is probably the most confusing part of camp, but it’s made worse because a lot of the officials are not helpful. It doesn’t hurt to ask officials, just to get a head start, but also ask lots of questions of your other campers, the ones that arrived before you. (I’m kind of really glad I didn’t arrive on the first day because it meant, lots of people to answer questions…but it also means they were almost out of good uniforms, so pick your poison). Basically, there will be a lot of different lines to hand/show your different documents to. There is usually an order you’re supposed to do them, but it doesn’t always make sense. Ask lots of questions (especially to double check you are in the right line) and also ask two to three people the same question before you go running off across camp with miss information.
ALSO, super important, before you start registration, just go claim a bunk bed. This is why it’s important to ask your fellow campers. If you ask an official, they will tell you to go do registration first, but campers know to just go claim their bed because registration takes FOREVER. It’s not practical to do it while lugging around your suitcase. If your suitcase is locked, just leave it on the bed you choose and go about your registration.
Camp is pretty safe (I mean, it’s run by soldiers), so the main thing you need to worry about is your personal items and your sanity. My cousin asked me a few questions and I incorporated many of the answers here.
For your personal items, even if you trust your hostel mates like I did you still want to lock up all your things. You don’t have to lock up your pillow and sheets but everything else should be hidden. Make sure everything fits in your suitcase and ensure you lock it, even if you are just running to the Mami market and when you go to sleep at night. I sometimes left my clothes to air on top of my bed, but that was after putting my state code on everything. The reason for all this is that people might be coming in and out of your room without you knowing. For example, friends that visit your hostel mates or the people that come to clean the room. So just because you trust your hostel mates doesn’t mean it’s only them in the room. I know some hostels/camps will lock the door and only the room captain has a key, but our hostel didn’t have that. We were lucky though, our room had no thefts.
For your mental health, just don’t make toxic friends…typical life advice. There are lots of people in camp who came to waste their time and the time of others, so avoid them. In addition, as a woman, some soldiers are “friendlier” than others. While it’s good to have a nice rapport with some of the soldiers and officials (especially when you are trying to sneak away from lecture, I mean, get water lol), you don’t want it cross any boundaries. Just keep your wits about you and be safe. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your mom hearing about.
What to Expect from Your Schedule
For the most part, it depends on your camp. The booklet with the schedule will be given to you day one (unless your platoon official sucks and isn’t around). Ours schedule was parade-breakfast-lecture-lunch-parade-dinner-social activity-bed time. I brought a book to read, but I hardly had time to actually read it. Bring one just in case.
When to wake: Some camps are WAY stricter about this so be careful. Personally, I just got up as I heard others getting up. I went for parade then came back for my bath. I think people always talk about waking up at 4am to bath before parade but only a hand full of people actually did that. My hostel woke up later than other hostels because we were the last room the soldiers would come to and we would just gist with them so they never really forced us out. Sometimes I got to the parade ground almost at 6am. My friend Chineme was super surprised. Stuff like that never happened at her camp.
When to eat: Designated eating time will be in the camp schedule. You just have to decide if you want canteen or Mami market food. But just eat at the time allotted.
When to rest: This is also allotted. Lights out is supposed to be 10pm. Also, like I said, my hostel was crazy. I once took a nap during lectures. As in I got up half way through a lecture and went to sleep in my bunk. Also Saturdays and Sundays during personal administration is a great time for sleep. Don’t let annoying people try to wake you up at 5am on Sunday.
Carrying flask: My cousin also asked about carrying her flask around (I know she’s related to me because we’re crazy detailed about asking questions). But this is what I told her: You shouldn’t really have to. I did it a few times because 1) I got busy with my SDGs class which took away my free time to run to the hostel and back, and 2)my hostel was the very last and the girl’s hostel is already far from the canteen so running all the way to my hostel and running all the way back out for food would be tedious. Most people didn’t do that though. It’s cumbersome when doing parade or something to carry around your flask so don’t do it unless you have to.
Man-o-war drills: This is probably the part of camp everyone slightly looks forward to. This is where you do the obstacle course and get lots of photos like you’re hard core. Unfortunately, it only happens once. Each platoon took turns on the man-o-war course. The only exception to this is the people who got to be part of the special man-o-war group and so they performed at each special event. They made the announcement for volunteers the first day, so that’s another good reason to show up early. Also, during the day of the man-o-war drills, you aren’t allowed to use your phone to take photos so this means you HAVE to patronize the photographers if you want you super awesome shots to take home. Again, things you will need money for.
What to Wear
This again depends on your camp. People in my camp mixed khaki and white and our commandants encouraged us to stay warm since it was really cold at 5am. My friend Chineme said they either had to be white on white or khaki on khaki. My camp wasn’t that strict. The number of whites I put on my packing/shopping list was more than enough. The 2 white shorts they provided at camp fit me just fine so I basically had 5 white shorts. I know other people where the shorts were way too big or too small for them.
Some camps allow mofty (plains clothes) on Sundays so bring at least one or two clothes for church. Some people were dressy for church. I just wore the dress I traveled in. I didn’t have space in my suitcase for much else. Also, on the day of Carnival, you get to wear whatever you want! Most people decorated a white shirt with their platoon (or group) and wore jeans on the bottom, so just bring a pair of jeans at least. Sunglasses and jewelry were not allowed on the day-to-day. You’re also not supposed to wear make-up on a day to day, but during the parade you can wear a bit of make-up (but no red lips) and of course during carnival, you can go crazy.
Classes to Take
There are A LOT of opportunities for extra classes and certificates during camp. You’ll be exhausted if you try to do all of them. They have classes that prepare you for a specific CDS such as HIV+AIDS and SDGs, and they have classes that give you a certificate in project management or other skills. Some of them might overlap, so keep that in mind. Some of them also cost money (so this goes back to being conscious of how much you want to spend/bring).
Two questions to ask yourself before you take a class: do I NEED it and am I SUPER interested in the topic. At least one of these has to be a strong YES. Check your camp’s schedule for when there will be an intro lecture on the class you are interested in, so you don’t miss the beginning. I missed the intro lecture for SDGs because I was “using the bathroom,” aka, napping, lol. But I had it on my radar from looking at the schedule and was able to rush to the hall and meet the presenters to get information. Don’t be like me. Just attend the right lectures.
There will also be a part of the camp where they start the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development program (SAED). They have a vast array of offerings from poultry, fishery, beading, to ICT, cooking & catering and make-up and hair dressing. Myself and other SDG members missed the general lecture and the first day of this. This meant I wasn’t even sure what classes our camp was offering. But from asking around and looking around, I was able to sign up for the tailoring class. The SAED program goes on for several days so missing the first two days wasn’t a big deal. This means, if you aren’t sure which program to do, you can spend the first few days shopping. And if your camp is as relaxed as mine, you can spend the whole time shopping. But it’s good to stick to a class you are actually interested in because you can continue taking it once you get to zonal placement.
Groups to Join
There are A LOT of different groups you can join during camp. To keep from running around, be strategic about the ones you become part of. Some groups that were available at our camp (and most camps) was Red Cross and the Orientation Broadcasting Service. There are also religious groups (a Christian one, Muslim one and Catholic one) that you can register to be a part of. Again, these things cost money so plan accordingly. For the religious groups, you can still attend the services without joining. Joining usually entails an ID card, a shirt, being on their registry and having access to their various branches no matter what state you end up serving in. Being part of a group is also a great way to make friends! Your platoon is also a group so try to get involved with their activities. Whether it’s joining the volleyball or football team, or helping with the various cultural activities, you will have much more fun if you’re involved.
Toilets and Neatness of Camp
This definitely depends on the camp that you go to, so just prepare for the worst. This being pit toilettes and no running water inside the hostel. I was lucky and we sometimes had running water inside, but the tank outside was usually reliable. Bucket showers and bucket flushing are to be expected everywhere. Have small black plastic bags or a bucket for the pit toilets so that you don’t have to hover over the opening.
AFTER NYSC CAMP
You can have your transportation plans figured out before you get to camp if you want, but it’s three weeks long so you have plenty of time to figure things out. Chances are, you will make friends who are headed back in your direction and you might want to travel back with them. You all can get together and decide what bus company, etc.
Since we were Borno corpers camping in Jigawa, some of the religious groups made provisions for their members to travel together on to Borno, so that’s one option. There are some bus services that get a chance to advertise within the camp, so you can call the numbers associated with them and get more info or book a ticket. OR. The day of, just walk outside the camp gates like the free corper you now are and you’ll find options aplenty….but most might only be reaching the next big town. But whatever mode you decide to travel, go with friends so the adventure is a little more fun.
Keeping in Touch
Even if there is no network at your camp (high chance), collect the numbers of the people you really want to stay in touch with and create lists for the groups you have really enjoyed being a part of. This way, after camp, you can keep in touch and you can make WhatsApp groups for yourselves.
If you choose you want to relocate, the forms for doing so are made available during camp. This is why it’s really important to pay attention during announcements (it’s really hard, but just try), and keep an eye on what your platoon is up to because they will be the ones handing out the forms. You fill the form, write a letter and later, almost at the end of camp, you will be able to access your new location. (The network was super poor, so I had to get someone in Lagos to access it for me and tell me where I had been relocated to). You have a little bit of a grace period to report to you new location, but try and do it as soon as you can. When you get there, they will need a print out of your relocation form and just bring all the other documents you used during camp (the folder we talked about earlier). You’ll get new state codes and basically do a mini registration all over again.
So that’s everything that’s good to know when preparing for your NYSC Camp experience. Again, a lot of the stuff during the camp could be specific to my own camp, so it’s important to ask around and keep an open mind. If you have any questions or advice to add to this list, please comment below! Would love to hear from you all.
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