1. Don’t be late in getting to camp! The best is to be early so your registration can be stress free.
2. Avoid Camp Food. YES!! Camp food is made by a bunch of unprofessional cooks who just throw the miserly food ingredients given to them to make that crap called food. It’s not the faults of these women but the government/NYSC officials. The best foods are made on Sundays.
3. Respect yourself and don’t break the rules.
4. DON’T BE AFRAID OF ANYBODY IN CAMP!! YES! The soldiers can’t beat you. Neither the Civil Defence nor Police. They can only drill you, but if you are tired, just squat on the floor and tell them you are tired. SIMPLE! Don’t be rude because you can be thrown into the jail (After a camp court trial sha), but you don’t have to do the frog jumps, press ups… if you don’t want to.
5. Mammy Market is your friend. If you are an Ajebutter like me who is very particular about where and what I eat, you can do what I did. Find a Mammy Market stall you are comfortable with, make friends with the owner and have her prepare you whatever you want to eat. Just inform her in advance. I served in Obubra and had this one Mammy Market woman who really took care of me. I will just tell her that tomorrow, I want X soup with Pounded Yam and Dog meat (just kidding about the Dog meat sha) and she would cook it, bring it and give me my bill which was alarmingly cheap (Max. 3k).
6. Sew your Khakis from home before coming to Camp. This is the only way to enjoy your NYSC uniform as it will be tailor made for you to fit. You will end up looking smarter and sharper than the rest of your fellow corp members.
5. Buy as many BYC white shirts and White Shorts as you can afford. I Bought 14 BYCs, 14 Shorts and 14 pairs of white socks. I advise this because of the following reasons;
a. The NYSC issue Shirts & Shorts are so inferior that they either tear while you are still fitting them on, or they will tear while you are washing them.
b. NYSC camps are filled with thieves. Chances are you will lose those shirts and shorts to thieves after each wash. Sometimes, even the Camp helpers (errand boys) are the ones who will rob you.
6. Get yourself a sling bag. This should be where all your valuables must be inside. Always keep it with you even when you are having a shower or taking a Dump.
7. Don’t get caught in this trap: A lot of Corpers come into camp and want to immediately start ‘runsing’ their posting to the states capital. In the Process, Many girls especially get taken advantage of sexually by all and sundry. Even boys also get financially exploited for this. I was a Platoon leader and know this first hand. None of the following people have the power to influence your postings;
a. The Army
b. Civil Defense
d. Platoon Leaders
A lot of girls get exploited by these people with the promise of influencing their postings. That’s why there is always a festival of tears at the end of each camping season from girls that have been used for nothing.
8. Make friends! Make Friends!! Make Friends!!! Very important. Make friends with both Corp members and NYSC officials as they will come in handy at different points throughout your 1 year season.
9. Enjoy yourself in Camp. It’s a 3 week experience that always ends up being too short. This is the last time in many of your lives that you will ever get to have such an experience ever again. I call it the right of passage for every Nigerian graduate from Boys/girls to Young men/women. ENJOY IT. I really missed camp when it ended.
10. Don’t take up a position of responsibility if you have poor people skills. NYSC PLATOON LEADERS dey suffer. Dealing with Nigerian Graduates is worse than dealing with market women. They are unruly and uncultured. I speak generally based on the numbers you have to face. Some are just pleasant and lovely, but most are pure arseholes. My assistant once left my platoon hungry because they pissed her off. I swear it’s a service that you don’t get paid for that comes with a lot of insults. If you do, be ready to give your all including your money.
11. Pack Condoms. I do not need to tell you that all call-up letters carry an aphrodisiac in it that makes the ladies horny as hell. Even Married women are not left out. Virtually every chick in camp is fair game to a sharp guy. However, whatever you do, please wear the Proper PPE before entering the work site. J
12. Beware of Fire Drill. This is a drill that is done on a random night where a bonfire is lit outside and in the middle of the night, the soldiers sneak into your rooms with the lights out and all of a sudden start a ruckus, screaming FIRE!!! FIREE!!!!! FIREEE!!!!!!!! Banging things, creating pandemonium. Sending your rooms into a panic frenzy! People will start running for the exits at break neck speed. Remember that there is no light so people will run into obstacles, fall and get very injured. In my time, 3 boys ended up in the hospital with really deep cuts from the metal bunk beds. PLEASE! When you hear that scream of Fire!! You will most likely jump and be ready to run like other will most definitely be doing! Please regain your composure early and remember that I told you about this drill. Just lay quietly on your bunk and wait for the chaos to subside before leaving the room. Don’t even fret should you see a soldier banging on your bunk or any such thing.
13. ENDURANCE TREK: I personally enjoyed this part of camp. I completed mine. Even had to cross a river by canoe at some point. Now listen. Your NYSC issued jungle boots are useless cheap piece of trash that is no good for nothing but the dust bin. For your endurance trek, please find a pair of really good quality trainers, (I bought a pair of military spec jungle boot from the U.K you can also find some in the market that is military spec and not Converses o!!) and wear. If you must use the NYSC issue, make sure it’s a comfortable fit. Otherwise, wear the thickest pair of socks you can find. Otherwise, you will be bleeding and injured all over your feet by the time you are done.
14. Corpers with unique medical and other needs. E.g. Asthma. Please bring with you enough inhalers to last you for a month. Remember that the activities in camp are stressful and may trigger your attacks more than usual. Please protect yourself well. And to those with other medical needs, please bring your medications with you o!! Camp clinic is just French for Mortuary. Girl bring in your sanitary towels, paracetamols, etc.
15. If you own a Blackberry, IPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia Lumia, etc.. Please my honest advice is to leave it at home. Chances are you will be too busy to even remember those phones. HOWEVER!! Should you choose to bring them with you, go and buy these back-up mobile chargers so you can charge these phones while you sleep. In the day time, you send those battery chargers to the guys to charge for you. That way, your phones and batteries never leave your sight!
NYSC is gonna be one of the best times of your life, so enjoy it!
Alusi Okija writes from Anambra State.