I was not a hundred percent ready to go camping when I checked my dashboard. Initially, It was not exciting since I was at a phase where I was indifferent about where I was going to be posted. My heart was in Lagos.
A couple of tears dropped when I saw my state of deployment and big thanks to face masks that I could hide behind. plays big girls do not cry by Sia
For the first time after a long while (more like since I graduated) I did not miss home so much. I did not miss home enough to be quiet or gloomy on the first night I got into camp.
It has been an experience I would live out just once. I would not bore you with the details of why the program was instituted or what you need to know before going to camp and things to take with you while going. I had my fair share of digesting pieces of that information both online and offline. From my sisters and friends who had gone earlier down to various Whatsapp groups and blogs, I felt I knew enough to thrive just fine.
Things did not pan out as expected. But what is even cooler is that they turned out to be better than I anticipated. I guess it was better to visit another state. I was posted to Ondo State- the sunshine state. No exaggerations but the sun hits real hard.
On my first day at camp, I got in real late and I could not do my COVID-19 test which is mandatory for every PCM (Prospective Corp Member). So I was directed to go to a hostel where people like me that got in late were going to sleep since we had not done the test. I got out to get a bucket and met the first person I would get accustomed to while in camp. Her name is Mimi.
The camp was cool. Everyone was trying to get accustomed to the new routine. There were also complaints about the fact that we had to wake up pretty early for drills. And the chills? Mehn! Pretty cold in the morning. I looked forward to Sunday because there was really no time to rest or have “personal time”.
There were no expectations on having so many friends while in camp and while that could stand, I could not exist in isolation. So, I made friends.
I knew quite a handful of corp members I could casually say hi to.
The first friend I made was not in my platoon and we started talking because we were queuing to write our names in NYSC “book of life”. God bless his precious heart. This means I had to know someone in my platoon I could relate to too.
For someone like me who could be jovial, I found it a difficult to associate with other corp members in my platoon. I knew I did not want to force any relationship or friendship. I wanted to sail with the wind. Wherever it took me. There, I met Yusuf who happened to be our coach for the volley ball competition. This is a story for another day because sports is not for everybody🙈
The next day after undergoing the COVID 19 test which came out negative, I met David and Victor. These two would go on to be two of my favorite people in camp.
ON BEINGS AND BONDS
People lost love, I heard. people found love too. That is all I can say. Seeing that meme of two days and corp members acting like they have known each other for years did not really play out in camp until the last few days. Most definitely, people got served breakfast and people prepared breakfast too (IYKYK).
I met some incredibly nice folks. I had the pleasure of spending time with people like David, Victor, Dami, Mimi, Muna, Ozi, Benny, Ella, Wunmi, Aishat, Yusuf, GT, Godswill, Stephanie, Carter, as well as a slew of other remarkable individuals. I could tell which ones these were just by looking at the tips of my fingers.
Carter’s childlike innocence is astounding. This is a conversation that could last all day.
He’s a Northerner, and oh! Ruth was also someone I met. Ruth and I were in the same platoon and SAED class at the time. I selected knitting because I thought it was interesting and something I would like doing in the long run if I had my way. I’m tugging my shirt back at this point to avoid feeling all over the place.
WAHALA NO DEY FINISH
How can I leave out the fact that to slim fit your khaki trousers or shirt costs #1,500 and God helping you, it’s still not your fit or it was not done properly.
My khaki could easily fit three individuals my size without any alterations. Of course, I questioned the purpose of the online registration, which included questions about our personal information, body sizes, and shoe sizes.
Same with my jacket and boots. It’s still surprising that you can cut the sole of your boots to alter them. Nothing comes without a cost at the camp market.
It’s been eye-opening to spend 21 days in camp ( I actually spent 19 days in camp). The soldiers’ expectations, Mama SAED’s expectations, the state coordinator’s expectations, and one’s expectations of what to do or achieve after the three-week orientation session have all been different.
There were series of lectures, some of which were lengthy covering topics related to SDGs to extinguishing fire, to girls talk with the state coordinator to Agro businesses from IITA to advice on choosing a life partner down to what to do when we redeploy and what to do when we get a PPA.
On good days, we would pay rapt attention and on other days that were not so good, we would close our eyes for a short while until the “speech” was over.
I have evolved. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. And, for what it’s worth, visiting Ondo was worthwhile.
Please leave your pool of tears at home, if you’re anything like me. When soldiers say hurtful things or use derogatory words, they don’t mean what they say. With time, you’ll realize that it’s their means of communication. Frustratingly, you would find it amusing.
The soldiers were not as tough as I had expected based on information from my sister and friends who had served earlier in the year. Although, they became unnecessarily harsh as the camp drew to a close. Most of the time, their reactions were uncalled for. Jabs ranging from “see as e be like kingkong son” to “I go commot ya teeth, give you half and take half” from one of my platoon superiors would definitely make you to be at ease instead of at attention. Whether they could act it out or not, no one really wanted to know.
Another event that took the most of our time was the parade. Since it was more of a structured life, it was basically from the hostel to the multipurpose hall to the parade ground and then to the camp market. And then the cycle continued.
Ondo State was nice to me.
This is where the Ferris wheel slows down. This is where I get down and make my way down the path, following God to the next season of my life.
…And I’m not entirely sure I am ready to leave camp. To know what comes next. As I write this, it’s 11:41 p.m. Tomorrow, Tuesday, would be a roller coaster of emotions. It only gets better from here.