Okay... We, corpers and all, at Magaji Dan Yamusa camp are preparing for the big day- the closing ceremony and heading to the different PPAs and CDS.
Surprisingly, these past couple of weeks at the orientation camp have been a time of learning and unlearning for me.
Meeting, living, learning, unlearning and working with a group of strangers, some of whom have become friends, has been an interesting process of growth for me. I look forward to the next phase with thankfulness and open-mind.
This post is aimed at 'helping' the next crop of graduates who'll be serving our fatherland across Nigeria better prepare (that is, what to expect on camp). Try to prepare well as much as you can for the 3 weeks of camp life:
1. Ask other corpers, ex-corpers about their experience: Before heading to camp, I read a book written by an ex-corper titled "Corper Shun". Trust me, the book did go a long way to help me prepare... I also 'drilled' my older siblings and friends on their NYSC experience. Their diverse responses opened my mind to the uniqueness of the programme. At the end of the day, our experiences might be different but having a fore-knowledge of what to expect will reduce your "camp-shock." Some camps are more stressful and depressing than others. To put it better: some camps are more exciting than others ;-).
2. Come open-minded: Come to camp open-minded. I know many people will feed your mind with their views and prejudice once you announce your state of service. I'll advise that you take your time to actually allow yourself experience the uniqueness of the place you are posted to and the people you'll meet as well. Try not to judge everyone and everything at first contact.
3. Make friends: Camp life is pretty stressful. Being around the right people or having the right people around you will help you stay sane. But don't be too desperate about making friends that you land in the wrong company. Try to have fun... and relax. Don't complain too much. Moaning and depressing murmurings will leave you exhausted. Avoid depressing conversations if possible.
4. Come with money but learn to budget well: When I read in "Corper Shun," the need to bring some pocket money to camp, I thought the author was joking. But having experienced being broke (you might not get an ATM to withdraw money), I'll say please bring pocket money... But also learn to budget. Don't spend extravagantly... Be very frugal in your spending. Don't buy everything you see... Also don't allow camp photographers take pictures of you randomly- of course unless it is part of your plan. Be kind to others but also ensure you are not careless with your spending.
5. Eat from the kitchen Some corpers are 'allergic' to eating from camp kitchen so they end up spending a huge part of their pocket-money in 'Mami market.' I'll advise that if you are not ultra-rich (or even if you are), try as much as you can to eat from the kitchen. The government paid loads to ensure you have three square meal per day. Don't miss the opportunity to use your meal ticket. Okay, they don't cook the best meal. But trust me, it is not that bad. You can complement what the kitchen provide with fruits from Mami market.
6. Beware of Mami market: Mami market is the spot where things are sold on camp. And yes, things are very expensive there. The traders/retailers there blame the inflation in the market on camp officials. They say they were charged mercilessly for their rented space. So corpers bear the burden. To avoid being exploited in this market, try as much as you can to come with as much things as possible- waist-bag, bathing and washing soap, detol, Milk, etc. In our camp, the price of items were almost twice the normal retail cost.
7. Security: Ensure you come with a safelock for your bags. But more importantly ensure you don't flaunt too much to put you at risk of petty theft. Be very careful with your belongings... For example, don't leave your phone or purse on your bed and turn away for a minute. Don't get me wrong, the camp is pretty safe. But some cases of theft were reported in my hostel as well as others. There are no locks on hostel doors so everyone including non-corpers (e.g. women who hawk goods) have access to these hostels. So, ensure you up your skills in keeping your things safe.
8. The military life is not as mean: NYSC is described as para-military. So come prepared. Don't come expecting the camp officials to be mushy-mushy. It is not that they are not empathetic but just come prepared to live like a soldier or be treated as one- with harshness et al. The activities are no childs-play.
9. Be prayerful & don't neglect your faith: It might be hard to have a me-time on camp. Activities are sometimes back-to-back. There are also other activities competing for attention. Not to forget how tiring waking up early for all those activities can be. But try to maintain a healthy time for devotion. Attend the Nigeria Christian Corpers' Fellowship...(NCCF), Catholic or Muslim fellowship where applicable... Don't neglect your faith. Fellowship with brethren revitalizes.
10. Eat well: Most activities, if not all, require high energy. I mean high energy! Ensure you eat well. Don't skip meals. Come with snacks and water bottle. The latter is to ensure you constantly have water closeby. There is a lot of 'standing under the sun' so you'll need the water to stay hydrated!
11. Actively participate: There is always the temptation to play truancy while on camp. Especially when camp activities get overwhelming. Try as much as you can to be active on camp... Volunteer to serve in the different groups- Nigeria red cross, OBS, man o' war, etc. When in your platoon, also try as much as you can to participate in the group activities. All the team dynamics is part of the learning process. Active participation is not necessarily to get cheap recognition... Or massage your ego. It is just that there is no need to tiptoe through camp... You won't have the experience twice. Some of the seminars are annoying or a time-waster but try as much as you can not to stay idle...listen up anyway. Maximize all learning avenues. ( I was not ultra-active but I did try to at least participate in some activities).
12. Create your own experience: No amount of experience-sharing can replace your own unique experience while on camp. So don't box yourself in. Go to orientation camp and rock the phase!! DON'T FORGET TO READ THE HAND-BOOKS YOU'LL BE GIVEN DURING REGISTRATION. As irrelevant as the small booklets might look, reading them will save you alot of headache ;-).
Bonus: Learn from the challenges you'll face. Embrace camp life with a thankful heart. Stay positive even when it seems you have no reason to. May God firmly establish you in your PPA and other phases of NYSC! I pray same for me and all corpers in my set as well. :-).
The NYSC anthem: Youths obey the clarion call, Let us lift our Nation high, Under the sun or in the rain, With dedication and selflessness, Nigeria is ours, Nigeria we serve....
Note»»»» "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7.
Photo credit: culled from pro-NYSC Twitte