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March 22, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

Top High School Policy Debate Camps

Top High School Policy Debate Institutes: Ranking the Best of the Best Debate Camps for 2010
Looking for a top policy debate institute in your budget or geographical range? Alex Gulakov (also known as Synergy to many in the debate community) pointed out this, which created a tiered system of camps. Certainly all camps have different content focuses and strengths. This serves as a starting point. Ask other debaters for more input. One way to do so is ask a specific question about the best summer debate camp for you your time, budget, geographical, and experience level needs.

Tier I
DDI, Michigan Seven Week, Northwestern

Tier II
SDI, Michigan Classic, Miami, GDI

Tier III
UNT, Kentucky, UT, Emory

Tier IV
JDI, WDW, WFI, WNDI, Berkeley

Tier V
all unlisted camps

Rhizome suggested this modified system:

Tier I
DDI, Michigan Seven Week,

Tier II
SDI, Michigan Classic, GDI, UT, UNT, Northwestern

Tier III.5

Tier III
Kentucky, Emory, JDI

Tier IV.5

Tier IV
WFI, WNDI, Berkeley

Tier V
all unlisted camps

The only caveat is the Miami is gone and Georgetown deserves a spot in the rankings. Also, the virtual option by Mike at Berkeley is also not listed, given that its new and it doesn’t have a tournament. As a general rule its only a supplement, not a replacement of the traditional (bricks and mortar) debate institute experience. Arguably, however, this is a summary of the best institutes in the country.

As a former high school and collegiate debater who went on to coach college debate for several years, I thought this could be helpful for those who are trying to get through the slick advertising they read in the Rostrum or online from a semi-objective source. Only in this way, can they make the best debate camp choice for their money.

Remember: if you are a regional debater or perhaps a novice or junior varsity debater–this ranking may not jive with your needs perfectly but it should give you a fantastic hunch and should be a step in the right direction. At the end of the day–1) pick a great debate camp and 2) debate camp is what you make of it.

List of Camps Outlined
Dartmouth Debate Institute (DDI)
Michigan Seven Week Institute
Northwestern Debate Institute

Spartan Debate Institute (SDI)
Gonzaga Debate Institute (GDI)
University of North Texas (UNT/Mean Green Debate Workshops)
University of Texas (UTNIF)
University of Kentucky

Emory University Debate Institute (ENDI)
Berkeley Debate Institute
Kansas University Debate Camp (JEDI/KU)
Wake Forrest University Debate
Whitman Debate (WNDI)

Also deserving mention is the Georgetown Debate Seminar


Leave a Comment
  1. List Detractor / Feb 9 2011 5:54 am

    I think this listing doesn’t mention any help for debaters at different stages in their career. SDI (at Michigan State) has consistently contributed the best faculty to sophomores and is a great camp for any sophomore. Most camps just throw sophomores to the wind although GDI and Kentucky have recently added options to compete with that they are in their first year.

    For instance this doesn’t discuss camp for incoming novices, Samford debate institute puts great emphasis there and has started many great debaters like Alex Lamballe and Trip Rebrovik. I don’t know much about other camps novice programs, from personal experience they usually get the lowest lab leader on the totem poll.

    Again for older debaters there is no differentiation between labs and camps and I think this list is merely sorted by ‘name brand’. This list is also out dated and gives no example of metrics it uses to evaluate camps. Rankings only work if people know why a camp is ranked highly so they can see if the traits your list emphasizes are traits they need in a camp.

  2. compassioninpolitics / Feb 9 2011 11:18 pm

    I think the issue of 1) camps for novices and 2) camps for sophomores is a valid one.

    Additionally the issues of “where should I go if I don’t have a lot of coaching” is one that periodically comes up as well.

    Unfortunately, this will never be a 100% fair or accurate process. I don’t have the resources of US News and World report to track the reputation, viability, or value of each camp dollar spent (note: US News has been doing it for a very long time and still gets criticism, and some of it is probably deserved). Even if we did, we probably couldn’t factor out coaching, student hustle, partner ability, strength of competitive season, and overall squad quality. Life itself is generally a series of (strategic) guest-i-mations.

    This list was primarily meant to do two things:
    1) give debaters some idea of what each camp had to offer.
    2) serve as a place to get some of the issues you aired out in the open

    I think this list does follow the name brands a bit.

    I don’t know the stats but camps like Michigan, Gonzaga, UNT, SDI, Northwestern, and Dartmouth have a history of turning out pretty competitive debaters from their respective camps. I think thats hard to deny. Will every camper be a super star from these camps–no.

    An added bonus of focusing on these 16 camps (17 if you add Samford for novice/JV debate) is that you are attending debate camps which 1) have a very rich tradition of debate (if you want to attend & debate) 2) are academically respected (again a way to look at future college opportunities)

    Obviously certain camps are better for novice, JV, and regional debate.

    As a side note to readers: Miami no longer exists as a debate camp.

    Do any readers have suggestions for quality novice/JV camps?

  3. compassioninpolitics / Feb 9 2011 11:35 pm

    Berkeley Debate Institute (CNDI):
    4 Week Program – June 19-July 16
    Residential cost $3450
    Commuter cost $1800
    3 Week Program – June 19-July 9
    Residential cost $2750
    Commuter cost $1500
    2 Week Program – June 26-July 9
    Residential cost $2000
    Commuter cost $1250

    Dartmouth Debate Institute:
    The fee for the four week session is $4150. This covers tuition, housing, and a declining-balance meal plan.
    July 17 – August 14, 2011

    Emory Debate Institute
    Emory 4-week Sophomore Debate Institute
    4-week ENDI: June 26-July 23, 2011 (Resident: $3150/Commuter: $2150)
    The 6-week Juniors Program (Resident: $4350/Commuters: $2850)
    6-week ENDI: June 12-July 23, 2011
    The 6-week Seniors Program
    6-week ENDI: June 12-July 23, 2011
    2-week ENDI Program June 12-25, 2011 (Resident: $1850/Commuter: $1250)
    (I assume all the emory 6 week programs cost the same–if you decide to participate, be sure to double-check)

    Georgetown Debate Seminar
    June 19th-July 10th, 2011
    Cost: $2875

    Also through Georgetown: the Hoya/Spartan 7 Week Workshop
    June 19th-July 10th – Georgetown University
    July 10th – August 5th – Michigan State University
    Price: as low as $5900 ($350 savings in tuition)

    Gonzaga Debate Institute:
    Five Week Scholars Program – June 19th – July 23rd
    Five Week Sophomores Program – June 19th – July 23rd
    Four Week Varsity Program – June 25th – July 23rd ($1300/$2000/$2500/$2700)
    Debate Track Program – July 6th – 23rd
    2 Week Juniors and Seniors Program – July 9th – 23rd ($900/$1200/$1500/$1600)
    2 Week Sophomores – July 9th – 23rd
    Novice Program – July 9th- 23rd

    Kansas Debate Institute
    2 week $1400 (with room & board) $800 (without room & board)
    3 week $1800 (with room & board) $1000 (without room & board)
    4 week $2800 (with room & board) $2200 (without room & board)

    Kentucky Debate Institute (based on last years northwestern tuition, which is not expected to change substantially)
    Juniors $5450 ($1300 Kentucky, $4150 Northwestern)
    Senior Fellows $5400 ($900 Kentucky, $4500 Northwestern)
    Seniors $6300 ($1800 Kentucky, $4500 Northwestern)
    Sophomores $6300 ($1800 Kentucky, $4500 Northwestern)

    Michigan State University–Spartan Debate Institute (SDI)
    2-week program: July 10-22 ($1150)
    3-week program: July 10-29 ($1650)
    4-week program: July 10 – August 5 ($3500)

    Samford Debate Institute (Birmingham, AL)
    Sunday, June 26-Saturday, July 9, 2011
    Residents $1,350 (including $50 deposit)
    Commuters with meals $1,000 (including $50 deposit)
    Commuters without meals $850 (including $50 deposit)

    UNT Policy Debate Institute (Mean Green):
    4 Weeks: June 19 – July 16, 2011, $3200
    3 Weeks: June 19 – July 9, 2011, $2400
    2 Weeks (A): June 19 – July 2, 2011, $1600
    2 Weeks (B): July 3 – July 16, 2011, $1600

    University of Texas
    Skills Intensive $1,850 (includes room and board)
    Research Intensive $2,950 (includes room and board)

    Whitman Debate Camp:
    3 week Policy or LD Camp: $2095
    (includes tuition, room, 3 meals a day, and $150 non-refundable deposit)
    2 week Policy or LD Camp: $1595
    (includes tuition, room, 3 meals a day, and $150 non-refundable deposit)

    I’ve done my best to include the prices for the most respected and popular debate institutes in the country. If I’ve missed one or mistyped something, I am truly sorry.

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