My experience at the NYSC orientation camp in Kubwa, Abuja was a very interesting yet stressful one. I actually planned to write about it weekly but the camp was nothing like I ever imagined. Even with all the stories from my friends, I wasn’t prepared for what was coming at all.
I decided to travel to Abuja two days before the beginning of camp and went to the NYSC orientation camp in Kubwa on Monday 15 January even though registration was to begin on Tuesday the 16th. My intention was to secure a good bed and also finish my registration early the next morning. Glad to inform you that this actually worked, not only did I get a lower bunk bed, I also secured a locker for my bags. On arrival, the officials at the gate asked me to open my bags for them to search (bags I had taken my time to pack!), I was already hating the place.
I stayed in “Harmony hostel” which was actually the only female hostel that was open that night. As a result, all the early birds had to stay there. As usual, some girls already had cliques while some were almost fighting over bed space and other things. When I got to my room, I quietly put my bags on the very flat foam placed on the iron bunk bed, walked up to a girl that looked friendly and asked her if we could share a locker and she was nice enough to give me an extra key to the locker.
Registration and NYSC Kit
Registration started the next day and for those of us who arrived the day before, we started very early. Completed my registration and got my full NYSC kit before 11 am. Everything about my uniform was wrong and this was where the chaos started; they gave me a size 9 jungle boot, size 10 sneakers, extra-large trousers, an oversized jacket and two very small shorts.
I wasn’t surprised though because like I mentioned earlier, I was quite informed so I went along with my own white shorts and t-shirts. I quickly looked for someone with my size to switch shoes with and I was lucky to get size 7 jungle boots and size 6 sneakers. Switching the sneakers was a wrong move though because the bigger it is, the better (keep reading to find out why).
Day one was going quite well for me until the soldiers started blowing their whistles for our first evening parade. I could see the excitement on people’s faces as they changed into their white shorts and t-shirts. Little did they know that they’ll be standing for almost three hours under the sun and in the most uncomfortable shoes. We just stood there listening to welcome speeches from different officials.
The pain was unbearable because the sneakers were so tight, I could almost feel my toes peeling. I went straight to the mammy market (a small market where you can find basically all you need to survive camp) immediately after the parade ended to get a new pair of rubber sneakers and a waist pouch because the one I had got spoilt. One thing I realised is that you can never be too ready for NYSC camp.
Early Morning Parade Drama
Sleeping the first night was quite the struggle and just when I was beginning to fall asleep, I heard noises coming from different parts of the hostel. When I opened my eyes, I saw people already dressed in white T-shirts and shorts. I quickly looked at the time on my phone and saw it was just a few minutes past 3 am. This was quite upsetting because I had not slept at all. Before I could lay down again, I heard the sound of the really loud trumpet (they called it bugle) which means everyone had to go out to the parade ground.
I grumpily went to the bathroom and the water was freezing cold! I rushed back to the room and wore just my white shirt, shorts and sneakers (another wrong move). The breeze at the parade ground was so cold, my teeth started shaking. I was literally hugging myself the whole time. After the morning meditation and workout, we had breakfast. Some people went to the camp kitchen while people like me who didn’t fancy the idea of queuing for food (or were just too hungry to wait) went to the mammy market to get food.
SECOND & THIRD WEEK
Swearing-In Ceremony/ NCCF/ OBS/ SAED
The first week went by really fast and I still didn’t have any friends. Except for my lovely bunk neighbour, Sonia and roommates that spoke to me occasionally. I had already set my mind on getting an exeat immediately after the swearing-in ceremony. I went to the Nigeria Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF) the first Sunday and honestly, I can say I found peace at that service. It was like everything I was worrying about suddenly became insignificant.
We spent the next two weeks going to the parade ground every morning and evening, attending lectures and skills acquisition classes, participating in inter-platoon sports and other social activities. I decided to loosen up a bit so I joined our volleyball team and the Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS) as a presenter to anchor the News @ 3. There were so many lovely people on the OBS crew, beautiful souls I must say, although some were just too energetic for me.
Man O’ War/ Cultural Day
I made up my mind to be as active as possible in camp. I even summoned the courage to do the man o’ war drill even though I fell ill that night – all the rolling in the mud definitely contributed to this. Had to visit the camp clinic for a few days and I felt better in no time. I eventually made a friend and coincidentally, we were in the same platoon (5).
The carnival day was one of my favourite days in camp. We were allowed to wear cultural attire and jeans. I got my very first henna (thanks to my new friend who kept insisting) and It was so beautiful. So Bassey if you’re reading this, thank you. *Disclaimer: there is no NYSC love story here, move along. Lol.
Last Day/ PPA Posting
Everyone was excited to leave camp even though most of us were more terrified about where we would be posted to serve for the rest of the year. I opened my letter and saw that I was posted to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). This got me a bit excited because I really didn’t want to teach. Unfortunately, my joy was later cut short as I was rejected at NIMC but that’s a story for another day.
Overall, I’d say the NYSC camp in Kubwa was fun and eye-opening, certainly not bad for a camp in Abuja. Would I want to be subjected to that kind of training again? Hell No! Never again. The camp in Kubwa, Abuja is nothing close to luxury, so for those currently registering for NYSC, don’t believe any fairytale stories you hear.
Have you been through the nysc scheme? What was your experience? If you’re currently doing the registration, what are your expectations? Kindly share in the comment section below.