Monday, January 9, 2012

Guide to surviving NYSC Orientation Camp - Items you need in Camp

*Takes deep breath in - Is this something I want to dredge up from memory? I swore I would forget all about this after spending 21 days in camp... Ok, it's for the benefit of others, so here goes...*

So, I spent 21 days in NYSC Orientation Camp! Now, let me tell you why this is a major accomplishment in my life:
  1. I never went to boarding school. EVER. Not in Nigeria. Not for college. Not for anything. The only person I've ever shared a room or bathroom with is my younger sister - not 31 other females, as was common in NYSC camp.
  2. I am accustomed to constant power, clean running water, AC units, washing and drying machines, etc. Living in camp is like going hiking or back-packing = no frills lifestyle.
  3. I am a VERY PICKY eater. Well, I never ate the Camp kitchen food, so...

Seeing as most people who know me think I'm a real softie, the butterest of ajes, daddy's girl, etc... I stayed in camp to prove a point: I AM STRONGER THAN YOU OR I THINK! Yay me! *doing victory dance*

One week before camp was supposed to start, I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to take an R+R trip to England. In my mind, I wanted to treat and spoil myself a little, before embarking on a 3-week period of drills and no frills. In retrospect, that might have been a bad idea. It's like moving from the Waldorf Astoria to Motel 6... 

Well, I picked up my Call Up letter in Port Harcourt (my city of residence). When I saw where I was posted to, I literally laughed out loud... my father said "No Way" and my mum called from the US saying "Go back to Abuja now, because there's no way in hell you are going there!" Long story short, I was reposted to Lagos :)

Now, there is a list of things that you should have with you during the camp period. Some of these things can be brought with you from home, or you can buy them at the "Mami Market" when you've settled into camp. 

List of things you need in camp
  • White shorts, shirts and socks. BRING from home. I would say at least 3 pairs. This is what you will be wearing for the next 21 days. Some camps allow plain clothes on Sundays; mine didn't (actually they did, but only for guys - SEXIST LAGOS CAMP!!!)
  • White sneakers. BRING. NYSC will supply you with one, but you'd be lucky if they fit you. Other alternative is to exchange with someone else or buy at the market. It's better to bring one that's easy to clean because they get dirty very quickly. I bought one that all I needed to do was wipe it down with water and voila!
  • Dettol. BRING or BUY. It's just to disinfect your bath water, which brings me to...
  • Bucket. BUY in camp Mami Market. There's no sense in traveling around with a bucket, and chances are that you'll want to leave it in camp when you're leaving anyways.
  • Towel. BRING from home. At least you know it's clean. Anything you buy from Mami Market may or may not be secondhand. Now is NOT the time for vintage/thrift shopping!
  • Bedsheets, pillow cases, and a pillow. BRING from home. Again, the peace of knowing what you're sleeping on is clean. Mattresses will be provided by NYSC. It is best to "double up" with the mattresses, as they are about 1 to 2 inches thick. I basically slept on the spring for 2 weeks because I got one exceedingly thin mattress :(
  • Handkerchief. BRING from home. There will be BUCKETS of sweating. Do yourself a favor.
  • Sleep clothes. BRING from home. *note that it is ridiculously hot at night, so a large t-shirt or long tank top and little shorts will suffice. In my experience, I went from fully clothed at night to sleeping in my underwear by the end of the camp*
  • Underwear. BRING from home - DUH!!! Although I have to mention that I discovered disposable underwear at one of the stalls in the market. It's not a bad option, seeing as someone stole one of my panties! Ewwwww, how do you steal someone's underwear??? NASTY!
  • Bathroom slippers. BRING or BUY. Trust me, going barefoot for even a second in camp is NOT an option. The bathrooms are filthy! The bedrooms are dirty! The corridors are icky! Just have something on your feet at all times. 
  • Detergent. BUY from market. Again, this reduces the amount of load you're bringing into camp. Remember how I said camp offers no frills? You have to wash your clothes, underwear, and bed things. However, if you're lucky the mami market will have vendors offering laundry services! The only caveats are: you run the risk of your stuff getting lost (this one vendor lost my shorts, shirt and socks and had the nerve to grumble when I switched to someone else) and the money quickly adds up. It costs N50 per item, N100 for your khaki trousers or shirt, extra N50 if you want your items ironed. I'm not sure how much washing your shoes cost.
  • Flashlight and batteries. BRING or BUY. Seeing as there's hardly ever any electricity, and you might want to read at night, having the flashlight helps.
  • Toilet paper. BUY in Mami Market. The bathroom situation - well, I'll give tips in another post - but you do need toilet paper. Always carry around with you, just in case...
  • Painkillers, malaria medicine, allergy medicine, etc. BRING from home. You do not want to make the mistake of getting ill in camp. The camp clinic is a BIG JOKE! True story - A corper from the previous batch donated at least a million naira worth of medicine to our camp clinic, and barely a few days later, they claimed to have run out of medicine *insert BB straight face here* WTH?????
  • Padlock. BRING or BUY. Well, I didn't take any with me because I went to camp with a hard  Samsonite suitcase - no padlocks required. And anyways, thieves apparently were simply tearing people's bags with scissors or knives to get to their things. 
  • Waist pouch/Fanny pack/Bum bag (or for the more fashion-conscious, a cross-body purse). BRING from home. The bum bags are more popular because they won't bang against you when you're active and your hands are free to do whatever. You need it to carry your money, phone, small valuables, pens, etc around with you at all times. You should sleep with it too. 
  • Good old CASH MONEY! If you're like me, you would need money for laundry, to charge your phone, to eat and drink, to purchase necessary items, to buy UNnecessary items, etc. You can budget N1000 per day to cover the basics. Make sure you bring smaller denominations... I ran into issues because I had only N1000 notes most of the time. 
  • Plate/Bowl or Food flask with Cup. BRING or BUY. I never ate the food provided by the camp kitchen, so I never needed these items. I only drank coffee (yup, we had a coffee stand) and ate chicken pie from TFC (Tasty Fried Chicken); shawarma (yes, we also had 3 vendors making shawarma); small chops, suya; and noodles. Ooooooh! I also bought akara in the morning (take one notch from my Aje-Butter belt), and had plantain and/or sweet potatoes for dinner. They cost N10 per piece, so it wasn't expensive and I got full on 5 pieces generally. 
  • Mosquito net. Erm, considering that I still got bitten by mosquitoes EVERY NIGHT and caught malaria 3 weeks after camp, I'm not sure this having this helped. Maybe BRING mosquito repellent? But you must religiously apply it on your skin! MUST!!!

I think I'll split the Guide to Surviving NYSC Orientation Camp into different posts. It's a lot to take in at once. Coming up next, Guide to Surviving NYSC Orientation Camp  - Arrival and Registration.



  1. Thanks so much i am in batch a for 2012 and i am so scared.. i just moved back from the uk

    1. You're welcome!

      I know the uncertainty and prospect of the unknown can be quite daunting, but just look at the next year as an adventure. Also, like I've said, just keep an open mind to the experiences. You can actually have fun if you allow yourself to.

      Best wishes as you start this journey :)

  2. oh thanks alot for dis...i go to camp in seven days... had no idea wat to get... u rock!!!

  3. Thanks for this info! I'll be going to camp next week and plan to carry my belongings in a duffel bag/backpack combo, you know similar to the type that is used for hiking or outdoor camping. And my main reason for this is the portability. My only fear is that ,the material of the bag is soft and could be very easy to cut through even with the padlock on. So what do you advise? Should I still use this bag or get a more 'secure' one?
    Thanks. Will be awaiting your reply.

    1. Eeeeeeek! I thought I replied earlier. I'm so sorry! What did you end up doing? I would have suggested taking a bag with tougher material and if you must take valuables, carry them with you at ALL TIMES!

  4. I'll be going in March 2013.i'm glad i have just enough time to prepare myself.atleast my fears have been cut down by 65%.thanx alot.

    1. You're welcome. Camp starts soon! Are you excited? Nervous? You'll be just fine :D

  5. wow! am so feeling like am in the camp already. Does it get that bad with living standards? am so aweeeeeeeeeed. anyway, yours is a vivid and fascinating way of narrating events. you sure pass for the best... so I return the kisses and hugs *I c u smile* LOL

    1. Yup, it IS that bad. Not saying Camp is bad. Just the living conditions are bad. No point in sugar-coating it.


  6. Hey babe, fanx 4d advice u reli rock! The next camp is less than 3weeks and I imagin how hell it wil b in dere. Jus that am kinda ve an idea of how terrible it myt b dats if one gives it a chance. U jus kicked it, and said al wat I needed 2hear. Fanx a million once more. Stay kul

    1. You're welcome. Just be sure to have everything you need and make the best of camp. I daresay you'll have fun!

  7. Literally I'm nicknamed Ajebo, AJB..... Wow!!!!!! This came in handy...... U are so on point. I love u sweedy..... U jst d best!!!!! Camp's in less than a week and uve got me all prepared..... Now I can say I'm ready!!! Thanks dear!

    1. LOL! Thanks so much. Camp starts tomorrow - have fun and make the most of it. Plus send me gist and gossip!

  8. you are actually a life saver,u r a blessing and a consolation not ajebuter shall but camp have been a bit frighten.thanks

  9. My flight to Enugu is by 10:50 today since its the closest to Ebonyi, where i got posted :( Thanks for all the information, kept stalking your page and of course found them handy. :*

  10. Hello dear, I sincerely appreciate dis wonderful opp.I luv d way u explained ds tips in details.v jotted everytin down n 'll be going for my service come Nov.You r d Best.tx dear

  11. OMG.. U totally saved my life.. Thank you so much.. Camp starts on Nov 5th.. And I totally had no idea wat to take. U rock gurl

  12. Lmao! hilarious! "My dad said 'no way' and my mum called from d US..." You are amazing! Thanks for this insightful blog! I leave 4 Lagos camp in four days... Wish me luck.