I will start this post by saying I enjoyed my NYSC orientation camp experience. Was it stressful? Extremely. I nearly fainted one day, but at the end of the three weeks, I was emotional and filled with memories. So I’m going to share a summary of those memories (I’ll try to summarise as much as possible).
I got to camp with mixed feelings. I slept throughout my journey from Akure to Ibadan, and then Iseyin NYSC orientation camp. Let me not talk about the freakish COVID’19 test they made us take. My nose ached for two days. I went to register and met my bunkmate, Tinuke. Her face was familiar, and I later discovered she went to FUTA (the same school I attended).
My friendship with Tinuke was one of my most cherished friendships in the camp. I loved her aura and personality, and I felt calm and myself around her. Her name is Joy, and she looked like one of my childhood friends whose name is also Joy. We were bunkmates for half the camp until our hostel governor (Dorcas) stepped on our bunk and mistakenly spoilt it (The bunk was already faulty). Tinuke and I tried hard to remain together, but the hostel mistress took out our faulty bunk and separated us into two different bed spaces.
Our morning exercises made morning drills fun, with the DJ playing “Monalisa” or “High”. People who slept during the devotion always came alive when the exercises started. I loved waking up in Iseyin camp (weird, right?). In our NYSC orientation camp, our mornings started with “Great Nation” by Timi Dakolo, to “How Do You Do?” by Beautiful Nubia, to “Good Morning Beautiful” by Steve Holy, to “Sign of a Victory” and “The Storm is Over Now” by R. Kelly, to “Were” by Teni. On some days, it was mixed with “Pray For Me” by Darey, “Beautiful People” by Chike, “We Plenti” by Cobhams ft. Simi and “Ordinary People” by Cobhams.
Even if you wake up grumpy (like I always did), you’re already calm by the time you get to the parade ground. I’m sending plenty of kisses to our DJ. Also, I know the order of these songs because I had to Shazam them when I joined OBS and started handling the Twitter account.
It also started with fun in my platoon (Platoon 10 to the world). Commander Anthony and Commander Simple were our first commanders (we stressed their lives). They were later unfairly taken from us, and we had Oga Bishop and Commander Akor as our commanders. I think our platoon had the funniest combination. We had Commander Akor’s cruise and Oga Bishop’s yabs, especially during our drill squad rehearsals. It was golden.
I represented my platoon during the debate competition at the NYSC orientation camp, and we won, but it wasn’t all roses a few minutes before the debate. Imole (my partner) and I did not know we were supposed to wear our crested vests and jungle boots. Some minutes before the debate started, we had to rush back to the hostel to change. At this point, I was already boiling with anxiety; my hostel mistress increased the heat. She refused to let me into the hostel despite explaining to her and even my platoon officer calling her.
Imole and I had not prepared; I knew we were going to flop. I almost dropped out of the debate competition. My platoon leader, Ire, had to get his crested vest, khaki and jungle boots for me from Ajimobi hostel, and I had to fill the oversized boots with tissue paper. By the time I was tying my shoelace, they had called the debaters. Imole saved the day; you wouldn’t believe we did not prepare.
My platoon friends were Imisi, Muyiwa and Faith. I enjoyed their friendship till OBS took my time, and I was hardly at the platoon. I also met cool people during my Photography and Videography SAED class, and my SAED group shot a music video for Darey’s “Pray for Me”.
Orientation Broadcasting Service (OBS)
Plenty of people wanted to join OBS to escape camp activities at the NYSC orientation camp, but I wasn’t one of them. I have always been a media person, so I wanted to join. Initially, I wanted to join the Broadcasting team but later submitted samples for the Reporting and Social Media team. I got selected for the Social media team. When I went to the studio, I met GB, Damilare, AY (Ayodeji Aladejana) and Holy Boy (I saved his number as “Only Boy” because that “Holy” was too questionable for me to have heard it correctly). The general opinion was that the OBS guys had an attitude, and well…[#Nowords]. After waiting for days to get contacted, some of us in my hostel started complaining.
Tunrayo said, “At least if they want to reject us, they should tell us”. We woke up the next day and saw that we got selected. Tinuke was in the Reporting team. We laughed at ourselves.
The Social media team started with six members. I handled the Twitter account, Peju handled Instagram, and Caroline handled TikTok. Maureen handled Facebook. At first, Peju was in charge of the captions because she said she had not managed social media before. But when everyone started slying us, she was promoted to Senior Social Media Handler😂. I later joined her in handling the Instagram account. I had a fallout with one of our members because she was rude to me (unprovoked) when I wanted to give her pictures to post on Instagram. Later, I discussed it with Peju, and she told me to ignore it.
One day, AY told us how our set (2022 Batch A2) would pass through the Iseyin orientation camp without leaving a mark. He later addressed the general OBS group and said we were going to be like snakes on a mountain (Haa! Kileleyi? Wetin be this?). He told the Social media team that we were posting bland graphics that were not attracting views to the account. He told us to post more of videos and Instagram reels. We went to think about our lives and came up with engaging ideas, and our videos got between 4k — 7k views. We also increased the Instagram followers count from 10k to 11k. Pheww! It was a whole lot.
On the day we shot one of the videos, Caroline was a bit down and had a cold, but she turned up. On that same day, Peju and I were on our feet throughout, taking videos from the carnival. The crazy thing was that our platoon drills competition was on the evening of the carnival. Imagine the state of my legs. At the end of the orientation camp, I was grateful to Peju and Caroline for their cooperation. Even though it was just half the team that pulled through, we covered up for the lapses of the rest.
I visited the clinic twice during the camp. The first time was a day before swearing-in, and the second time was for food poisoning. Remember I mentioned that I almost fainted one day? Our first platoon commander, Commander Anthony, made us do parade rehearsals from 9 am to 2 pm while taking 2mins breaks a few times. I got to the hostel, and my whole body was aching; massages were not helping. On the 5th day of doing parade rehearsals, I developed a fever and had to go to the clinic. I managed to attend the swearing-in ceremony the next day, even though we stood on parade for hours and still did Man’ O war drills in the evening.
But that is not the main focus of my story — The doctor who attended to me was shy (It was funny). He kept looking up at me and then down to his table. He was so friendly, and we connected almost immediately. I developed a crush (Hey, don’t judge me). I later saw him at Bible study in church, but I did not talk to him, although he walked up to me to tell me that he enjoyed the class I took (winks).
When I got food poisoning from the Egusi I ate, despite the pain and discomfort, I was happy to revisit the clinic (Abeg, no judge me). I did not get to see my doctor, and I was unhappy. Instead, I met a guy who had the regular ‘Nigerian Doctor’ demeanour. Here’s a crazy thing, I took my drugs and had to stop eating food from the kitchen (my stomach was also reacting to food from the Mammy market) until they served Egusi one day, and the smell entered my nose. You know what they say about stubbornness and betrayal. I stubbornly betrayed my health and went to eat my Egusi in peace. #YOLO
Camp love and vibes
I know, right? Your ears just stood up now. Sorry to disappoint, but while people were finding love from all directions, I was cruising at the centre. Maybe things would have been different if I got to see my friendly doctor again. One of my friends asked me out, but I did not take him seriously. He was flirting with my friend and me at the same time. When I mentioned it, he admitted that he liked the two of us but finally decided to choose me. It was at that point that I pledged allegiance to absolutely fear Yoruba guys, in consistency and with intensity.
One night, he called me out of my hostel, and since I had not pulled off my clothes, I went to see him. He started trying to explain how he liked me, and I added my explanation of why it could not work out. Then he said, “Chisom, I know you like me because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have come out to see me”. I opened my mouth in shock. Then he went on to say how he is a ladies’ guy and how ladies bought most of his camp things. While I was walking back to my hostel, Olubadan Room D, I muttered “good riddance…”.
I was walking out of the parade ground one afternoon, and Commander X stopped me — “Eisss, come here”. I had not seen him in the camp before. He said, “What is your number?”
“1940”. I answered in fear, thinking he was going to seize my tag.
He repeated the question, and I repeated my answer. Then he called me closer and muttered, “Your phone number…”
That moment was confusing, and at the same time, funny. I gave Commander X my phone number, and he asked me my state of origin. I said Anambra. “Oh, so you are Igbo”. “Yes”.
The remaining days of the orientation camp had me playing Eedris Abdulkareem’s “Excuse me sir; I don’t know what to do 🎵”. Commander X would call me out of the pavilion during the social night, and I’ll tell him, “Please sir, don’t put me in trouble”. One day He asked, “Are Soldiers not humans? Why are you scared?”
NCCF at the NYSC orientation camp
I had heard about NCCF, even before I came to the NYSC orientation camp. I planned to attend Sunday services only. The mid-week services were every day, and I was part of my platoon’s drill squad and was also active in OBS. Combining all of that was demanding. On the second Sunday, a guy walked up to me after service and said he wanted to see me. He asked why I had not been coming for mid-week services. I went on and on about how busy and stressed out I was — parade rehearsals, OBS, etc. and asked why NCCF had to fix services every day. He said, “You’re in OBS now. Why are you stressing yourself with other activities?” I told him that I joined the drill squad because I wanted to.
“This evening is worship explosion. Will you come?” He asked
“No. I have parade rehearsals. And I have to take my bath before dinner”
“Okay. I will be expecting you”.
“I’m serious. I am not coming”.
Who knows the agreement Pastor Reuben Ebiloma (State MD) had with the Holy Spirit, because I was there that evening with sweat all over my body from parade rehearsals, and I had a wonderful time.
I joined the Bible study and Choir unit (one of the female soldiers was part of the choir) and met Pastor Manasseh Sesugh. He handled the Bible study unit, and I did not know he was State Chairman till after camp when I got to the family house. I also met the State General Secretary, Uncle John Sani. It was all fantastic experiences and encounters during the NCCF orientation camp services, and I knew God wanted that to continue. I met wonderful people — Elizabeth, Obatinseun, Michael, Olamide, Promise, Olamide (Comfort), Nifemi, Sukanmi, Juwon, TJ, Ayomikun, Kemi, Fisayo, Chi-Chi, and I reconnected with my school friend, Virtue. It was a satisfying experience.
The truth is, I don’t think I can successfully summarize my orientation camp experience. I can’t begin to mention the names of the spectacular people I met from platoon 10 to Olubadan Room D, to OBS, to my SAED Photography group, to NCCF and even the Igbo group I joined (laughs in Wannabeism). Plenty of people have asked why I did not use OBS to escape camp activities. I simply didn’t want to. I wanted to experience the camp as best as I could. Iseyin camp was “it” — constant light (even though we couldn’t charge our phones in the hostels), constant water supply, good food (food that made me say “fudge it” to my food poisoning), and good weather. If called up again, I’ll definitely choose Iseyin
This post I wrote 3 years ago would be a blessing to you. Check it out HERE