My NYSC Camp Experience – Agwu Camp, Enugu
Hello, how are you doing today? Have you ever wondered what your experience at a NYSC camp would be like?
I got back from camp about three weeks ago and I got a load of questions asking how camp was. The short answer to the question was that Camp was great.
Read on if you want a more detailed answer as i would be sharing my experience.
If you do not already know NYSC stands for National Youth Service Corp. It is a program by the government that requires that Nigerian graduates spend a year in service of the country.
Graduates are often sent to different states, most likely states that they have not been to before.
The government hopes that the NYSC program would help to promote the unity of the nation because graduateswould learn about the cultures and ways of the people in the state where they are posted.
The government also hopes that the program would help to debunk stereotypes and misconceptions about certain tribes and communities.
You can read more about NYSC here.
As part of the program, it is expected that everyone posted to a particular state reports at the orientation camp for the state.
It is expected that we graduates spend 21 days in the orientation camp unless on special cases.
I was posted to Enugu state. The site for the orientation camp in Enugu was situated in the hills of Agwu.
When I got the news that I was posted to Enugu, there were different emotions running through me.
On the one hand, I was glad I was not posted to an area ravaged by clashing herdsmen and terrorists. On the other hand, I felt a bit sad because traveling to Enugu would take me farther from home than I have ever been.
Given that we were expected to report to camp in a few days, I had to get myself ready.
I went to the market the following day to get my white socks, shirt and shoes all of which cost about #10,000. My mum got me the other items I needed like fanny pack and padlock.
Journey to Enugu
The journey to Enugu was fine, even though there were initial hiccups on the way. The bus was supposed to leave the park by 7 but because almost everyone had a problem with keeping to time, the bus left the park around 8.
There was a certain air of familiarity in the bus because we were all going to the camp together.
The driver did not utter a single word in the bus until after two hours, and trust me it was after much persuasion. It seemed he was also more concerned with finishing his pack of cigarettes than getting us to Enugu because he made the most random stops just to take a smoke.
We got to Enugu Park around 6 pm; boarded another bus and finally got to Agwu camp around 8 pm.
On Getting to the NYSC Camp
Our bags were checked at the camp gate. It was a routine check to make sure nobody brought in contraband items like extension boxes, pressing iron and so on.
From the gate, we were directed to the Meditation ground where we would have some of our documents checked and also allocated a hostel.
We had to go to another hostel where we picked what would serve as our mattress. I was disappointed. The foams were honestly not thicker than an Oxford dictionary.
I picked up two mattresses which meant that I had to use some of the ninja skills I learned in movies to get past the officer stationed at the entrance of the hostel.
Tired from the journey all I could do after securing a bunk was to sleep.
First 24 hours at the NYSC Camp
Imagine my shock when soldiers came to wake us up by 4 am the next morning. In my mind, I was like “I just came in yesterday night na” [insert meme]
I got my bucket, dashed outside to “quickly” get water only to find out that about 70 other people wanted to “quickly” get water too. As expected many people wanted to jump the line which caused quite a bit of pushing, alterations and cursing.
Pro Tip: Always wake up early if you want to avoid long queues at the tap.
Fast forward 20 minutes, I was the proud owner of a full bucket of water, but little did I know that I would soon face another queue.
The line at the bathroom was another problem that morning. Imagine 120 boys trying to use a bathroom that accommodates only 6 people at a time. I was already starting to hate camp.
I got into my white shirts, shorts, socks, and shoes and hurried to the meditation ground. The newcomers did not go to the parade ground, instead, we started our registration that morning.
The registration involved getting a tag number, opening a new bank account and also receiving the NYSC kit.
Do you know that feeling when someone asks for your advice and then goes on to completely disregard the advice? That was exactly how I felt after receiving my kit.
Aside from the fact that the quality of the kit was very low budget, they were also not my size. So why the heck is there a section to fill cloth and shoe measurement if it is going to be completely disregarded?
Every item I was given was not my size, even my cap. I had to spend the whole day exchanging kits with other corps members.
Pro tip: Hang around the where you are given your kits so that you can easily exchange it for the ones that fit you.
Activities at the NYSC Camp
My movement in camp revolved around the same 5 places – My hostel, the parade ground, lecture hall, Camp market (Mammy market) and the Meditation ground.
Most of the days in camp were mostly like this:
Waking up by 4 am
It took some getting used to but I got used to it. I take my bath before going to bed the previous night so most times when I wake, all I do is put on my clothes and go to the meditation ground. I really do not know how the people that take their bath at 4 am do it.
The meditation ground is where all Corp members gather in the morning, just like with the morning assemblies in Secondary school. I was in Platoon 3.
Moving to the parade ground
From the meditation ground, we move to the parade ground where we perform some drills/ exercises and practice our marching sequences.
The parade ground at Agwu is outside the camp premises, so it was usually a long walk up and down a hill.
It was during our going to or coming back from the parade that we the silly yet amusing songs that made climbing the hills less of a task.
Here are the ones that come to mind:
- Moral! high! Morale! High!…(morale! Low!) For days when we were totally exhausted
- How many soldiers corpers go kill? How many soldiers corpers go kill o? We go kill them tire, eh eh we go kill them tire
- A big Belle! Something dey! A small Belle! Nothing dey!
Bath and Breakfast
Around 8 am, we all go back to the camp. This is when I have my bath and then eat breakfast.
I ate the camp food most of the time. It was not entirely bad as people made me believe. On days when I did not like what was served, I ate at the camp market.
By 9 am, the bugle is blown and everyone is expected to go to the lecture hall. The lectures usually hold from 9 am to 2 pm.
Yup, we have to sit through 5 hours of listening to different lecturers on a range of different topics.
Some of the lectures were great, others were just plain old boring. To be honest I slept through some of the lectures.
From 2 pm, I get the chance to rest a bit and have lunch. I also spend some of this time at the OBS studio. I worked with that marketing department.
By 4 pm, we are all chased out of the hostels to the parade ground for the second time in the day. We are on the grounds till 6 pm or 6:30.
I have dinner around 7 pm. I go to the camp market most nights to eat.
By 8, we are expected to be in the lecture hall for social events. The events included comedy performances, dance performances, cultural displays, singing competitions, Miss NYSC and Mr. Macho competition among many others.
I thoroughly enjoyed these nights even though my Platoon’s best finish at these events was coming third in the Miss NYSC beauty pageant (we had fine girls)
Light out is by 10:30 pm.
What I enjoyed during my NYSC Camp Orientation
I honestly got tired of camp after the first week, but since I had to stay for 3 weeks I needed to make the most out of it. Here are what made me enjoy the 3 weeks of camp:
Been part of a team
I actually didn’t know anyone when I got to the camp so it was a bit hard for me to make new friends. It was about 4 days into camp that I met my camp bestie. She was super friendly and generally just made the camping experience easier for me.
She was already part of the Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS) team so she encouraged me to join. I joined OBS as a marketer some days later and I would say I did enjoy the privileges that came with it.
One was the pride that came with wearing the OBS tag around camp, another was that I could dodge going to the parade if I wanted to. I also met new people at the OBS.
One time, I joined the kitchen group for my platoon. We assisted the camp cooks to prepare food for the whole camp. I made a new friend there too.
There are many other teams or groups aside from the OBS at the camp. There is the Red Cross (majorly for those who studied medicine or related courses), The Band, Sanitation team and a few others.
The Mammy market
The camp market or mammy market was another part of camp that I enjoyed. This market has basically everything that you’ll need in camp.
Food is sold there. Clothes and shoes are sold there. Since there are no sockets in the rooms, charging of phones is also done at the market. Food was moderately priced. Each plate of food was priced at a minimum of #300. I mostly ate Indomie and rice.
The population at the market significantly reduced after the first week but regained its robustness towards the end of the 3rd week.
Pro Tip: Your pocket is not as deep as everyone else at the NYSC camp. Don’t try to show off at the camp market.
Meeting new people
In this regard, I’ll say that I was late to the party. Aside from my camp bestie and my roommates, I didn’t really talk to anyone else at the camp until the final week.
I met some new people, took some pictures and exchanged numbers with a few.
While you might want to be careful with making friends with everyone, it would really do you no good been a lone ranger, I have learned that first hand.
Pro Tip:Don’t be afraid to start up conversations
I don’t know about other camps but the soldiers at Agwu camp made me rethink what I thought about soldiers.
Although the soldiers were intimidating, they were not harsh. The only time I got into trouble with them was when I wore my slippers to the mammy market instead of wearing my white shoes.
The soldier seized one leg of the slippers. I had to walk to my hostel with just one leg of my slippers. I had to change into my white shoes before I could get the other leg back.
The soldiers like it when you obey their command.
There was football for the guys and volleyball for the ladies. The football competition was fun even though my Platoon got knocked out in the second round.
Platoon 8 went on to win the football competition alongside many other competitions that they won during the orientation program.
Our ladies loved us so much that they got knocked out in the second round too( we love you too😂). Platoon 2 won the volleyball competition.
What I didn’t like about the NYSC camp
I actually didn’t go to the toilet for the first three days I because I didn’t want to use the pit latrines. The boys in the hostel also made the toilet look and smell bad.
The camp was extremely cold at night and incredibly hot during the day.
The annoying part was that we had to go out to the parade in the heat of the sun.
Good thing we had our caps. I believe I became darker after the 21 days.
The only consolation for all of that was that my Platoon won the Parade competition 😋😋😋
Last Day of NYSC Camp
The last day of camp was a bit stressful. I had to wake up early even though I had packed my bags the previous night. We all had to return the mattress that collected on the first day.
We moved to the parade ground around 9, but the parade and entire ceremony did not start until around 10. The ceremony ended around 12 after which we’re given our posting letters.
I was posted to Army Day Secondary School, 103 Battalion, Gariki.
I traveled back home to get my stuff but I am back here in Enugu.
Have you gone through the NYSC camp orientation thingy before? How was it? Did you enjoy it? What did you love and hate the most about the entire program?
If you have not served before, I hope you picked up a thing or two from my NYSC camp experience.
Please let me know in the comments. If you enjoyed this article you could also help spread the word by sharing it. Thank You.