Summer Speech & Debate Camps

From Coaches Mike Bausch and Ian Hopkins:

Many people have asked the coaching staff questions about speech and debate camp, we would like to write to you all to talk about the importance of camp, answer some basic questions about camp, and to explore different camps to talk about their benefits and costs.

Obviously this is meant to start a conversation, we would suggest reaching out to the coaching staff, or to the parents of older students who have attended camp to get their perspective as well.

What is speech and debate camp?

Speech and debate camps are hosted on college campuses around the United States and are sponsored and staffed by college and high school coaches. Many camps take selection of their staff very seriously to ensure that students are receiving the best and most competitively successful faculty to enrich their experience.

Debate camp is a rigorous chance for students to practice their debate skills and research the topic for the next season of debates. Students will spend their days researching and writing arguments, attending topic lectures, and completing practice debates and speeches with guided feedback from their instructors.

Speech camp gives interp students the chance to practice their blocking, acting, and performances in front of dedicated professionals without distraction. Many times, students will leave camp with 1-2 pieces that are nearly performance ready.  In oratory and informative most will leave camp with an edited final draft. And in extemp students will spend two weeks working building content, delivery, and argumentation.  This advantage gives students a major boost over their competitors that are just starting to work in the fall.

Speech and debate camps are useful because they ensure that students can have dedicated time to learning the craft without distractions from school work and the many other events and activities that our students take part in throughout the school year. Focusing only on speech or debate and working hard during the summer is a time when many students make fast leaps and bounds in their abilities.

Speech and debate camp also allow students to network with their peers, judges and with college coaches. It is a great way to improve the standing of students in the community and to make connections with college coaches and programs that may offer students scholarships to compete on their teams.

Ok great, so which debate camps are good?

There are many great debate camps around the country. The camp you should attend is largely determined by your skill level, the financial burden your family can afford, the amount of time you have to spend during the summer, and your overall interest in debate.

NEW Option – for students who are going into their novice year or second year of debate. 

Kent will offer a day camp for students to attend on our campus. This year is a trial run, but if it is successful, it could become a regular thing that is expanded to include more advanced students. The camp will run July 9th – July 20th.

Please reach out to Mike Bausch for more information about this camp!

Camps for students who want to get their feet wet, but don’t have a lot of time, resources, or aren’t sure they LOVE debate yet. 

I would consider attending many of the two-week camps around the country. These are all introductory camps, 2 weeks long, close to Denver (some are), lower cost, and have good faculty members. The 2-week camps are good camps for students who want a short camp experience and are in their first or second year of debate.

  • Gonzaga 2 week
  • Cal 2 week
  • Michigan 2 week (there are several offerings, please consult with Mr. Bausch)
  • Kansas Debate Camp 2-3 week.
  • Wake Forest 2 Week
  • Northwestern 2 week.
  • Dartmouth Debate Institute 2 week.

Camps for students who want to put in a lot of time, but don’t want to attend a premier camp for seven weeks. 

Most of the camps that are above also have 3-4 week camps that will meet student’s needs for a longer and more in depth experience.

Camps for students who want the premier debate package: 

The following three camps are probably the best camps in the country, but they also require the most time and money to attend.

  • Michigan 7 week
  • Michigan State and Georgetown Hoya Spartan Scholars
  • Cal Berkeley 7 week

Here is a list of camps to give you some links to websites to look at:

Here is a comprehensive list of camps, the list is from 2016, but is being updated and will be similarly relevant for this summer. The website also provides links to the camp websites, where you can find information about specific debate camps, their times, cost, and the application to attend.

Warning – there are quite a few camps on here that I wouldn’t send students to. Selecting a camp with high quality instruction is important; there are many camps that I would call scams. They select high school students who had success, but aren’t really invested in teaching or anything else. The students who attend end up receiving a worse education, because the staff of the camp isn’t really invested in improving the kids they are teaching.

Are there camps specifically for LD students?

Absolutely. There are two camps I would suggest sending kids to.

  1. Global Debate Symposium – I really like the head of this program. I have not seen details about the camp yet for this summer.
  2. Victory Briefs institute – they have many camps around the country. Our LD students in the past have attended; I have mixed feelings about the staffing choices. In general, they are one of the best games in town for students that want to learn about LD specifically.

Beyond these camps that focus on LD, I would also suggest to LD students to consider attending a camp for policy debate. Most of the difficult concepts in debate come from things that are used in policy. We have had students see success in learning those skills first hand.

Are there camps for speech students?

Yes! Speech students who attend camp receive the same benefits as students in debate.

Ideally you should be looking at two week camps for speech as well.  Over the course of two weeks students will work closely with instructors, learn how to cut literature, and be able to hone their skills more compared to one week.  On the speech side, camp faculty is important to consider and we encourage you to talk to Ian or other speech coaches before selecting a camp.  Most camps should provide some financial assistance if you need help with the cost of attending camp.

While there are many camps to choose from, there are three that stand out and have produced consistent results for Kent and the speech community in general.

George Mason Institute of Forensics
Dates: July 8-21, 2018
Location: Fairfax, VA (Just outside of Washington, D.C.)
Several Kent students have gone to GMIF throughout the years and have all come back raving about their experiences.  George Mason is a well-rounded camp that excels in teaching all three areas with amazing faculty from across the country.  Over the past decade GMIF students have won multiple national titles in US and International Extemp and national finalists in oratory and duo.  Over the past three years Ian has served as the assistant director of the camp and is happy to answer any questions about GMIF.

University of Texas at Austin
Dates: June 30-July 14, 2018
Location: Austin, TX
UTNIF has continued to build an amazing summer camp down in Austin.  Though the camp has more of a regional focus and their senior faculty are some of the best in the nation.  UT’s program has had recent success in interpretation events in particular.

Interprod (Interp and OO only)
Boston, MA July 7-21, 2018
Des Moines, IA July 22-August 5, 2018
Interprod is known for their work with interpretation events and come on strong in OO over the past few years.  Their curriculum coordinators are strong some supporting staff may not be as well versed as the other camps.  Students have come back from Interprod with finalized scripts and blocking with a lot of success early in the season!

Is this really required?

No student in our program is required to go to camp. You do not have to attend an expensive and fancy speech and debate camp to get better at debate. However, attending a camp is a short cut to getting better at a much faster pace, because it gives students an intensive series of practices for the next year. Additionally attending camp is EXTREMELY fun. Looking back on our high school experience attending speech and debate camp was one of our favorite things.

Wow, this is a lot of information. I still have more questions. 

This is meant to be a starting point learning about speech and debate camps. Please feel free to email any coach about camp. We would love to help you and your student end up in a place that helps them succeed.


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