I came. I saw. I left.
Although, I’ll be honest. I didn’t see nearly enough of this NYSC thing to actually write a fleshy post about my nysc camp experience. But I guess enough to leave a handwritten note on the wall saying “Cassie Daves was here”
Nonetheless, I’m all for documenting experiences and more than 90 percent of my Insta-fam gave me the go-ahead to write this, so I’ll be sharing the journey to my camp base in Kabba, my first impressions and nysc camp experience in Kogi state.
When I registered for my nysc, I couldn’t shake off this nagging feeling that I was going to be posted somewhere very far away from home. Somewhere it was going to be Ice cold, with soldiers tanned a shade too dark from the harsh sun. Somewhere in the North.
They say, think of something nearly enough and it might become your reality. Become my reality, it definitely did.
So I wasn’t exactly shocked or in disbelief when I logged into my nysc portal to find that I had indeed been posted to Benue state in the north. Yes, the same Benue state that appears in the news 24- 7 because herdsmen have decided it is their sole duty on earth to kill and wreck havoc. That Benue state.
Was I scared? Honestly not so much. I had a few of my med colleagues to do Benue with, plus God on my side.
It might be the God on my side thing because I (and everyone posted to Benue) eventually got reposted to spend the three weeks camping at the nysc camp base in Kabba, a small community in Kogi state.
The Journey To Kogi State.
Because I’m the most disorganized person ever, even though I had the grace of a couple of days extra to prepare and plan for the journey. I ended up packing late into the night plus attempting to fix a blog post too (I eventually did though and you can read that post here)
As you can imagine, I only woke up to my friend calling to find out if I was set and consequently missed the ride we chartered to get into Kogi.
We soon found another ride at the Ojota bus park, albeit a bus this time, boarded and set out by around 9 am with a driver with an annoying obsession to loud Yoruba music.
The journey to Kogi was pretty uneventful asides from the constant battle I had with the driver as regards the too high volume of his radio and he unrelenting in actually reducing the volume to soothe his customer. What is customer service to a bus driver anyways?
First Impressions Of The NYSC Camp Base In Kogi.
I had read a million posts on what to pack for nysc and what to expect but none talked about what the camp itself looks like. So I had zero ideas on what the nysc camp would actually look like. A large stretch of land with a few halls? A proper community? I was soon to find out.
We got to the NYSC camp base in Kabba by 4 pm, offloaded our bags and started the walk to the entrance of the camp where we were searched, shouted at to carry our bags on our heads( I didn’t sha) and our documents pored over.The camp was basically a large expanse of land with a few buildings serving as hostels, bathrooms, clinic etc and of course housing the popular mammy market. Nothing impressive to look at, but then again, I wasn’t expecting “impressive”
My Mini NYSC Camp Experience.
Before I go any further – let me mention that I’m currently back home in Lagos, got an exeat from camp on health grounds (had a recent surgery I mentioned in this post) and spent a total of just four days in the nysc camp.
I would have probably spent a few more days extra but my platoon leader practically kicked me out of the platoon, ordering me to go home since I got an exeat already. I guess you can’t really eat your cake and have it. Sigh.I Spent Just Four Days In The NYSC Camp At Kogi State And Left With A Lifetime's Worth Of Memories. Click To Tweet
Life in camp was basically a triangle of the hostel, camp clinic, registration ground and mammy market in search of food. Okay, maybe a rectangle but you get the picture.
The first few days were quite a bore. After passing through the gate, we registered for accommodation, was given a thin stretch of foam serving as a bed and then proceeded to find a hostel that wasn’t already filled to its maximum capacity and overflowing (max capacity being around 30+ people in a stuffed room with no sockets) to settle into.The mornings started with waking up somewhere around 4 am to head out to/make a run for the clinic in time to avoid the bugle and screaming soldiers forcing people to “double up” to the parade ground for morning prayers and drills.
One of the perks of being a doctor in camp is the ability to flash the doctor on Call tag/hideaway in the clinic to get off parade duty. Trust me to utilize this well and I only ended up being on the parade ground once – during the swearing in ceremony (which I actually enjoyed because I made a few friends on the parade ground)
I had imagined that the mammy market was going to be a place of fun because of all the stories I had heard of it but honestly? It’s just an extremely overpriced market where one can buy the basic nysc necessities, food, and some other weird bits.
The weirdest thing that was being sold was hot water but I can’t even mock it because I was super thankful for access to hot water, whether it costs 50naira per bowl or not.
I want to talk about the variety of people I met in camp during registration but my memory of most of them aren’t exactly fond memories. Or the registration itself which was a tedious process of standing in long queues.
I also want to talk about the soldiers and the annoying way they give orders and scream around but I won’t waste my energy on them.
What I’ll talk about though, is the 10 pm curfew that I thoroughly detested and the mediocre excuse they call the nysc kits. My khaki pants practically had no buttons and I had to sew myself into the pants (I may/may not have been banned from the tailors section of mammy market).
NYSC really needs to do better with the clothes and shoes they give. Terrible low budget stuff!
If there’s one thing I’ll remember most about my nysc camp experience in Kogi, it will definitely be the cold and the Kogi air that succeeded in reducing my quality of life while I was there. I can’t say I wasn’t pre-warned about the cold but I wasn’t expecting it to be so darned cold!
Needless to say, I came down with a cold (cough, catarrh, loss of voice, the whole shebang) the very first day I set foot into camp and nursed it throughout my stay.
- Constipation from holding my the content of my bowels in too long because Kogi camp had pit latrines and I really didn’t want to have to use them. TMI?
- Malnutrition from eating too much indomie and egg because I didn’t want to eat something that will make me have to use the toilet. Sigh.
- Loss of my moral and hygienic compass(if such a thing exists) because I had my bath only once a day due to the cold and used a few terrible words out of frustration during my registration period.
I made a friend! A pretty interesting one. And I might be setting myself up for more teases from my friends by admitting it here but YOLO has been my mantra for the past few days.
The only thing I was excited about for nysc was honestly making new friends. But after the first three days, I kind of gave up hope of that happening. Majorly because I didn’t see myself giving up the safety and warmth of camp clinic to go make friends on the parade ground in between drills and the long hours standing.
I guess the universe saw me losing myself and everything that made me uniquely me and sent me this person to make me fall in love with myself again. Because there’s something about someone else being fascinated by you that can make you realize that you’re indeed magic. So Hey E, if you’re reading this, thank you!
Before you all go on and on with jokes of nysc Bae and what not, this isn’t a love story. So shush your minds!
And there you have it. My mini nysc camp experience in a nutshell. Do I regret coming back home? Honestly, not really! Would it have been nice to engage in/ experience the social activities? Yes, definitely but I’m happy to be back to good toilets, my blog and blog planner. lol
Have you gone through this nysc thing? What was your nysc camp experience like ? Where were you posted and did you make lots of friends during your stay there? What’s the one thing you love and hate about the nysc program?Check Out My NYSC Experience Camping At The Asaya Camp In Kogi State! Click To Tweet
P.S – NYSC is the acronym for National Youth Service Corps, a one year program set up by the Nigerian government to involve the country’s graduates in the development of the country. We go through three weeks orientation in camp and spend the rest of the year serving the country (teaching in schools, working in the healthcare center etc) in whatever rural community we are unfortunate to be posted to.
P.P.S – Shout out to my colleague and friend Dr. Iweka for coming through with some of the pictures for this post. I appreciate you!
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