I did promise in my last post to share my list of things to bring to camp. Let’s start on these first:
- Mosquito net- it’s cheaper and easier to get them here in Nigeria. If you’re getting a treated net, listen to these pearls of wisdom. Make sure you SPREAD IT OUT for about 2 days before you leave for camp. A lot of us didn’t read the instructions that came with the nets and we didn’t spread outside before using at camp. People had face rashes, itchy eyes, etc. As for me I was feeling dizzy inside the net so I had to remove it and wash the next day to reduce the strength of the chemicals. Treated nets are always better because they are like sort of repellents, and should repel bed bugs (in case there are bugs around, LOL, I know!).
- Insect repellent cream or spray (you can get from Boots if you’re in the UK). If your camp is like mine where you sit under trees for lectures, activities, etc, organisms will love your ‘abroad’ blood and suck it well. Repellents will keep them away, even mosquitoes. Buy ones that will last for hours so you can use from start of day.
- Baygon spray or any equivalent insect sprays will also come in handy.
- DRUGS – not illegal stuff oh. I’m referring to Paracetamol, Ibuprofen etc. Then IMODIUM. Trust me. Using that latrine 3-5 times a day is not cool. You’re changing environments so there’s a good chance you might purge after feasting on camp or mammy market food. Please, please, please don’t go to camp without Imodium especially if you have sensitive tummy. Imodium was like gold after flagil wasn’t working for me. I had to pay like 1k at the camp clinic for a staff member to buy a pack for me from a pharmacy outside the camp. You might not even need it in the end but it’s better to be prepared for eventualities.
- Bath pack, personal hygiene pack, bath slippers and DETTOL, the big family-size bottle. Talking about bath packs, I advise that you use soaps, and not these liquid, moisturising ones like DOVE. This is just a personal preference though! The reason for this is, those liquid bath wash things we use in colder climates are meant to moisturise your skin. In hotter climates like Nigeria, you don’t need your bath things to moisturise you. You need something to keep you dry and prevent sweating. At camp you will be doing physical activities, getting punished by soldiers by squatting (lol), etc. You will be in the sun most of the time. You will sweat and sweat. So I discovered using soaps kept me drier than my good old DOVE body wash. Sometimes you won’t even need to use body cream. Most times I just sprayed my insect repellent on my hands and legs after bath. Body creams will make you sweat a lot. Don’t forget the deodorants too, they’ll keep you dry.
- Bucket – you can always get this from the camp market from around 400 naira.
- Bed Pack – pillows (if you must use one), pillow case, blanket, bed sheet and cover cloth. This is my advice: buy a blanket and wrap it around your mattress. After this then spread your bed sheet over it. I advise this because you don’t know where that mattress has been. Seriously. Don’t take chances. Maybe I’m being extra...but prevention is better than cure.
- Food Flask and Cutlery – if you prefer camp food to mammy market food. Very unlikely though.
- ‘Provision’ – maybe just cereal and milk...but you most probably wouldn’t even need to bring them from home. Mammy market has it all.
- Your White Shorts, T-shirts and white tennis– people brought their whites from home and you’ll be glad you did! The NYSC ones are not the best. I got my shorts from Sports World (Umbro ladies’ white shorts) and white ladies’ fitting t-shirts from Primark (like £2/£3 each). White Tennis is around £2 at Primark
- Waist Pouch – this is where you will put all your important stuff such as money, phone, etc. Your pouch will become your BFF in those 3weeks. You will eat and sleep together, go to the bathroom together, etc.
- Torch / Flash light – another Best Friend. You will go to the 2am latrine rounds together. Also when your camp booboo sees you off to your hostel, your torchlight will guide your way.
- Passport Pictures – you will need these in camp so take 12 with you to be on the safe side. You can take passport pictures at the photographers’ shops in mammy market in case you forget. But you will pay more because they know you need it desperately.
- Important Documents – such as your call up letter, international passport, school results, etc. Basically all the documents you took with you when you went to register at Abuja. Most people made sure they gave these back to their drivers or parents to take back home after they finished registration. You don’t want to risk keeping them in your room. If you go to camp in public transport and have no one to take the docs home for you, then keep them well in your waist pouch, never in your box.
- CV – I didn’t need to take this with me but some people did. Sometimes employers go into camps and recruit a few lucky ones. You could have one or two copies of your CV folded into your pouch so that if you see an employer you can hand it to them.
- 2 mufti clothes and shoes or sandals for Sunday. You can bring more clothes if you want to contest in the beauty pageants.
- Hangers – to hang your underwear or little garments by your bunk when you wash them.
- LADIES: try as much as possible to bring black underwear so as to avoid any unwanted transparencies. Your white tees and shorts are like a see-through. Not everyone wants to see your pink victoria secret bra and pants combo on parade ground.
- Money – the amount you need depends largely on your lifestyle. Just make sure you go with more than enough, just in case of anything. I would advise a minimum of N25k for the 3weeks. Apart from feeding, you will need money to adjust your oversized khakis or buy new ones in camp market, and for a host of other things. On camp you will be given money by the government three times. First is given around the first week and it’s N1,500 for transport reimbursement or something. Then in the second week you get another N1,000. Then in the final week, a day or two before you leave camp, you get your “alawi” (allowee, i.e., monthly allowance as a corper), which for now is about N9,750 or so. That will be your monthly salary from NYSC for the next one year. No, it’s not a joke.
To this day I don’t know why NYSC camp markets are popularly referred to as ‘mammy market’.
Mammy market has ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you need to survive in camp. They sell food (rice, indomie made in front of you, yam, eggs, bread, jollof, real pounded yam, eba, amala, egusi, ogbono, affang, suya, peppersoup, etc). They also have tailors, shoemakers, hairdressers/nails stands, phone chargers, photographers, videographers, etc.
Prices will depend on which state you camp in – for example, Lagos rates will be higher compared to Osun or Kano. 2 pounded yam wraps and egusi with serious meats cost only 300naira at my camp (yup... an equivalent of £1.50ish)!
Then there was this area my friends and I used to call “Sodom and Gomorrah” in the market. LOL. It was the beer, cigarette, palmy (palm wine) and everything-you-can-imagine joint, usually intentionally poorly-lit with banging loud music. We gave that area of the market the name because it sometimes got too rough at night, so much so that we tried to stay away. One night we saw lap-dancing! People that didn’t like that side of the market got their Smirnoffs from other more reasonable drinks kiosks.
The market is usually in the camp compound, in a separate area. It's not like it's outside or anything. Once you are in that huge camp compound, that's your confinement for the next 3weeks.
In case I have left out anything from that list, you can get it at mammy market.
Before ending this post, I need to talk about the rooms. There are different kinds of rooms – e.g. some rooms are like corridors, with over 150 people crammed into them, while some are small like a snail shell with 20 people packed in there like sardines. The latter was my type of room. Small room with 10 bunks for 20 people expected to breathe into each other’s nostrils for 3weeks. Look below at pictures of my room. The second picture was taken when my bunk collapsed one morning! Thank God no one was under when it happened. Seriously, it's a lovely, funny experience. At first I was mad and started ranting about health and safety. But now my ex-roomies and I just laugh about it every time we remember how it happened. It was like slow motion. LOL!
TOP or LOWER BUNK?
You’ve probably heard a lot of people arguing which is best. A lot of people say the top bunk is the best, especially if you are extra finicky and don’t like people sitting on your bed anyhow. But again you will have more challenges setting up your mosquito net, and dressing up. In my room there was practically no space for anything. We used to move between bunks by walking sideways and squeezing through. Yeah.
If you choose a lower bunk, it’s easier for you to tie your mosquito net. You’re also freer than the person on the top bunk and dress up more easily. But all and sundry will arrive on your bed during gist time.
So, verdict is, choose whichever one you want based on your preferences. I started off sleeping on the lower bunk but I had to move to an empty top bunk later because I was too close to the window and was inhaling all the cobweb and dust. I was also tired of strong wee-wee smells that greeted me by the window every morning.
Coming up in next post: Daily Schedule
The window I moved from!
after bunk collapsed!
before bunk collapsed....see how crammed the room is...
Night view of the entrance of mammy market.