The National Symposium for Debate Flagship Session is the premier offering for NSD's Summer Institutes. We offer a rigorous curriculum centered on the systematic instruction in the theory and strategy of debate, lectures on topics of concern to academic fields such as political science, critical theory, and philosophy, and the development of speaking and rhetorical skills. Our curriculum embraces all skill levels – from those with no prior debate experience to veteran national circuit debaters. For a main camp session, NSD's Flagship has no match. Click here to see why NSD does it best. Read about our premier session below!

Talent. Instruction. Determination. Success. NSD Does It Best.

An overview of our curriculum is available on the home page located by clicking here. 

Three Week Curriculum

NSD’s main session will remain our flagship institute: our premier camp focused on national circuit debate where the country’s best circuit debaters gather each summer to master their craft. The flagship institute now features a three-week curriculum. It is undeniable that national circuit LD has become a dramatically more complex activity over the last few seasons. The activity now demands that students wishing to compete at a high level master an unprecedented range of substantive content, debate strategies, and technical skills. For the past several years, we have seen a consistent increase in requests from students at every experience level for coverage in the curriculum of a wider variety of debate issues and skills at an increasing level of depth. Enabling our students to attain mastery in this new debate environment requires a more robust, longer running curriculum.

While we feel the need to expand our core curriculum, we do not want this to trade off with either the opportunities for students to work with faculty one-on-one, or the opportunities for students to focus on their areas of interest in additional, specialized lectures and workshops (both of which are opportunities that we know students—rightly—value highly). Our new three-week structure allows us to expand the core curriculum while also adding in more time for students at every level to work with faculty one-on-one and in small group workshops.

A three-week institute also makes room for a rigorous camp curriculum with wider and deeper coverage of the issues most important for today’s debate students, but it also gives students something they badly need at debate camp: time. With more time in our schedule, students have the chance to digest what they are learning, as well as to bond with their peers and make the connections with each other that are such a valuable, enriching, and competitively critical for students at camp. This means a three-week camp can simultaneously be more rigorous and more fun.

Accordingly, unlike old models of camp instruction which featured two-week curricula with optional third weeks, our flagship institute features a unified three-week curriculum designed to be experienced in its entirety. We recognize that the price for an added third week will be a concern for some students, and we have attempted as much as possible to keep the added cost of the third week low.

While our typical student at the flagship institute this summer will attend for three weeks, we recognize that—especially in this transitional year—some students may find it difficult to attend a three-week program. So, we will offer a very limited number of spots for students who wish to attend the flagship institute for two weeks (at an adjusted two-week price). Please note that, logistically speaking, capping the number of two-week attendees is required, so if you think this option is important for you, then we strongly advise that you submit your registration for camp immediately.


Students are grouped into labs based on experience level, and these groups form the heart of the NSD experience. All NSD labs maintain a 1:4 instructors to student ratio, and this calculation does not include additional administrative staff. NSD treats all students as equally important by assuring individualized attention to each and appointing veteran national circuit instructors to work in every lab.


Another unique feature of the NSD flagship is our move away from a traditional system of lab and modular lectures to a system of labs and “rotations”. Students will still do the bulk of their learning in traditional labs, but will receive outside instruction in rotations. Rotations consist of three 2-hour blocks of time (one a day for three days) during which labs receive instruction on some topic by two instructors who are not their lab leaders. Rotations will happen in lab groups, but from outside instructors who specialize in the content area. We believe rotations capture the benefits of the old lectures (introducing students to new staff, and allowing the staff to speak on their strongest topics) but retain the unique benefits of lab (hands on instruction, small size, and the ability to effectively and immediately reinforce topics with drills and homework).

Elective Seminars

While we believe that teaching in lab is the most effective way to teach, we acknowledge that there is value in being able to teach more specific topics for shorter periods of time, which led to the creation of Elective Seminars. These are one-off, two hour seminars (constituted of a mixture of lecture, discussion, and drills), taught by single instructors to lab-sized groups but not in actual labs, since students choose which seminars to attend. Staff propose the topics they would like to teach in elective seminars and so all seminars are taught by staff who are passionate about the subject they are teaching.

Practice Rounds

All students attending NSD will have at least 10 practice debates observed by instructors, who will provide feedback on what students should do to improve. Some of these rounds will occur in the annual NSD Camp Tournament, which provides a competitive opportunity for students to showcase the skills they have learned over camp.

Fourth Week Curriculum

All too often, students leave camp having done some extra practice, but without much concrete to show for it. Extra practice is a valuable aspect of camp, but it becomes significantly more valuable when it is coupled with a curriculum that guides students to produce preparatory materials that they will actually want to use during the season. This is the guiding thought that informs our curriculum for the fourth week.

In our fourth week, each student will be able to choose two “special topics” preparation labs that fit their needs. This will allow students to identify areas of debate where they would most like assistance improving their preparation before the start of the season. For example, a student might choose to focus on preparing for Kantian framework debates. In this case, the student can expect that in their preparation lab they will write and solidify their understanding of a few different types of Kantian framework, write detailed answers to common Kantian framework justifications, write detailed responses to these common answers, and so on.

In each of their preparation labs, students will be able to work intensively with expert faculty in order to produce preparation that they will use during the season. Preparation labs will be small groups led by faculty members that specialize in the given topic area, and they will meet at length each day so that students have ample help gaining mastery in their chosen topic areas.

Each student will leave the week not only having gained in-depth knowledge of their topics, but also having prepared files that they have perfected with guidance and feedback from faculty on each of the two areas of debate of their choosing. This intensive period of focus means students will get the chance to gain a competitive edge that would normally take months of coaching to achieve.

In addition to their preparation labs, students in the fourth week will be sorted into drill groups that focus on their technical skills. These drill groups, in conjunction with practice rounds, will help students improve their technical skills and solidify their understanding of how to execute the preparation they are working on in their “special topics” labs.

Check Back Often for Staff Announcements!


Tom Evnen, Executive Director

Swarthmore College, BA

University of Chicago, MA

Tom debated for four years for Lincoln Southeast High School in Nebraska. Tom twice cleared to elimination rounds at the Tournament of Champions. His senior year, he was a state champion and finalist at the TOC. Tom has coached debate at the Hockaday School (TX), University School (FL), Oxbridge Academy (FL), and La Jolla (CA). Tom’s students have cleared to elimination rounds at the Tournament of Champions thirteen times, including four quarterfinalists and two semifinalists. Tom has also coached two students to championships and one to finals at NFL/NSDA Nationals. In addition, Tom’s students have reached finals or won championships at Apple Valley, Blake, Bronx, the Bronx round robin, Emory, Greenhill, the Greenhill round robin, Harvard, Stanford, Valley, and Yale.

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Terrence Lonam, Co-Executive Director

University of Alabama, BA

Terrence is a coach for his alma mater, Lake Highland Prep, where he debated for four years. Over the course of his career he earned nine bids, won Lexington and the Crestian Round Robin, was Top Speaker of the Sunvitational, twice finished with winning records at the TOC and was a team captain his senior year. In two years as a coach, he has coached five students to the TOCs and to numerous finals and outrounds appearances, including a finals close out of the Collegiate Round Robin. Terrence is pursuing a degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies as a University Fellow at the University of Alabama, and is the current president of The Mallet Assembly, the University’s oldest continuously running honors organization. This is his third summer with NSD, and he has previously worked at TDC and SNFI.

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Becca Traber, Flagship Top Lab Leader

Reed College, BA

Yale University Ph.D. Candidate

Becca is a coach for Lake Highland Prep as well for several independent students. As a debater for the Kinkaid School, she earned eleven career TOC bids, won Berkeley and was a finalist at TFA state tournament and the TOC. As a coach, she has coached 14 students to the TOC and 4 students to TOC outrounds. Her students have also excelled at local and regional competitions, winning two Florida State Championships and qualifying every year to both CFL Nationals and NSDA Nationals. She has taught a total of 10 top labs at TDC, NDF, and NSD.  She has served as a board member and Director of Faculty Development at the Texas Debate Collective, a nonprofit debate institute committed to rectifying inequities in access to debate. Outside of debate, Becca is a PhD candidate at Yale University in political science, specializing in political theory. This will be her second summer with NSD.

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Benjamin Koh

New York University, BA

Ben Koh debated for 4 years at Loyola High School in Los Angeles where he was the team captain his senior year. His junior year he qualified to Nationals in policy debate and to the TOC in LD his senior year. He was the Head LD Coach at Byram Hills High School for three years and coaches privately. He has coached finalists at Scarsdale, Yale, the Penn Round Robin, and TOC as well as champions at Walt Whitman, the Ohio State Tournament, and NCFL Nationals. In his three years of coaching, he's coached 5 TOC outround appearances, 12 TOC qualifications, and TOC outround participants every year. He is also on the planning committee for the Texas Debate collective and is the director for NSD Philadelphia. 

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Chris Castillo

University of Houston, BA

Chris has been the Head LD Coach at Strake Jesuit in Houston, TX for 9 years. He has coached champions at Grapevine, UT Austin, Greenhill, Victory Briefs (now Harvard-Westlake), Bronx Science, and Berkeley. He has coached students to finals at every TOC bid tournament in Texas along with at least semifinalists at 8 different TOC Octafinal bids. Chris has worked for 16 years as a coach, judge, tournament director, and institute director. Chris was awarded the Bronx Achievement Award for his contributions to the debate community, and this year alone has coached the champions of St. Mark's in Dallas, TX, and the UT Austin Tournament. 

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Kris Wright

UT Austin, BA

UT Austin, MA, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Kris was a 2010 Teach for America corps member, and has coached Lincoln-Douglas debate for over thirteen years. He has coached for Marcus, Westlake, Southlake, University School, and, most recently, the Law Magnet, where he also coached policy debate. His students have reached finals of TOC-qualifying tournaments eighteen times, and to elimination rounds of the TOC. His policy teams qualified to NSDA Nationals seven times, and elimination rounds of TFA State, including the 2016 TFA State Champions. He has extensive experience as a curriculum director and/or instructor at many summer debate camps, including as a co-founder of the Texas Debate Collective (TDC). This will be his second year at NSD.  

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Sam Azbel

Bowdoin College'18

Sam is the Head Lincoln-Douglas Debate Coach at Byram Hills High School in New York. In This is Sam’s 7th summer at NSD. Sam debated 1 year at Trinity Prep and the following 3 years at Lake Highland Prep in Orlando Florida. During his time at Lake Highland, Sam amassed a total of five bids and qualified to the TOC his senior year. During his senior year, Sam most notably Semi’d at the Dowling Catholic tournament, Octa’d at Minneaple, Semi’d at the Beltway tournament, and got to finals of the Crestian Classic. Sam also received many speaker awards at tournaments such as Crestian, Sunvite, Berkeley, Minneaple, Glenbrooks, Beltway, Dowling Catholic, and many more. In his first two years of coaching, Sam’s students acquired a total of 34 bids. Sam is also one of the co-hosts of NSD's podcast, Hutt Up or Shut Up located here.  Sam will continue to study philosophy and education at Bowdoin College.


Adam Brown

Kenyon College'20

Adam debated for Episcopal High School in Houston, Texas. As a debater, Adam qualified to TFA State twice, NSDA Nationals, and the TOC. Adam is currently a first-year student and prospective English and Sociology double major at Kenyon College. He coaches students from Montgomery, Klein Oak, and Earl Warren High School who, collectively, have been in late elims at every national tournament attended. Within debate, Adam enjoys researching and discussing continental philosophy, the role of the ballot/judge, methodology K’s, and theory and topicality. Outside of debate, Adam plays Ultimate Frisbee is a huge music nerd. 

Dino De La O

Dino De La O debated locally and nationally for four years at Law Magnet in Dallas, Texas, graduating in 2016. As a competitor, Dino qualified to the TFA State Tournament and advanced to elimination rounds 3 years in a row. He also qualified to the TOC his junior and senior year, receiving 7 bids his senior year. Dino championed the University of Houston Tournament, was the top speaker and semifinalist at the Grapevine and Strake Jesuit tournaments, and advanced to the elimination rounds of every octos bid tournament he attended his senior year. As a coach, Dino has taught at major national summer camps such as NSD and TDC, and his students have received 7 bids, won the Sunvitational, and won top speaker awards at the UT Austin Invitational and the UH Invitational. Currently, Dino is studying anthropology at the University of Houston and enjoys reading a wide variety of philosophy.


Wesley Hu

Columbia University '19

Wesley debated for four years for Millburn High School. His senior year, he earned five bids to the TOC and numerous speaker awards, including top at Columbia, second at Harvard, and third at the TOC. He finaled at, championed, or co-championed Beltway, Ridge, Newark Lexington, and the Penn RR. Outside of the national circuit, he also qualified to NSDA nationals and cleared twice at the New Jersey state tournament, making it to semis his senior year. 

Wesley’s debate related interests include theory, skepticism, and debate strategy. In his free time, he enjoys anime, lifting weights, and comics. He currently studies Mathematics and Philosophy at Columbia University.

Sean McCormick

UT Austin, 19

Sean McCormick did three years of circuit LD at Strake Jesuit, qualifying to the TOC twice and accumulating 10 career bids. As a senior, he won Grapevine, the UT tournament, the TDC Round Robin, and the Sunvitational, and reaching late elimination rounds at many others. Beyond his career as a debater, Sean has coached the Kinkaid Team as well as taught the top labs at both NSD Flagship and NSD Texas.

Shivane Sabharwal

UC Berkeley'19

Shivane Sabharwal is currently a freshman at UC Berkeley studying Computer Science. He coaches the seniors of Lynbrook High School and his students have accumulated 10 bids so far this year.



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John Staunton

Columbia University'20

John Staunton is a freshman at Columbia University studying theoretical physics. He debated for four years at Bronx Science and currently coaches a few independents and Bronx. As a debater, he cleared, got to bid rounds or bid at Yale, Valley, Capitol, Apple Valley, Glenbrooks, Bump, Sunvite, Columbia, Newark, Harvard and Princeton. Outside debate, he works for the Boys & Girls Club in Harlem, is part of Blue Shift at Columbia, and is interested in current events/politics, astrophysics and music. His debate interests include theory, identity politics and critiques/Ks of US imperialism. 

JP Stuckert

University of Notre Dame' 18

JP is a Liberal Studies and Economics major at the University of Notre Dame where he has been a leader in the philosophy club and in a local middle school Great Books program. JP debated as President of the debate team at Strake Jesuit. He has worked as a private coach for a small group of students since graduation, with his two main debaters receiving a total of 8 bids to TOC. Since graduation he has led 8 labs at NSD’s Flagship Session, TDC, and Strake Jesuit’s middle school camp. Outside of debate JP enjoys swimming and reading classic works of fiction and intellectual history. 

His debate interests Aristotelian philosophy, competing accounts of practical reason, and criticisms of contemporary social science research.


Alex Yoakum

Emory University '19

Alex Yoakum graduated from Grapevine High School in 2015. In his senior year he qualified to the TOC, receiving his bids from Greenhill and Minneapple, as well as reaching several bid rounds throughout his debate career. He also participated in the Greenhill and Bronx Round Robins. Currently, Alex is a philosophy and comparative literature double major at Emory University. In addition to his academics, he has presented papers on Queer Theory in undergraduate literature and philosophy conferences. This will be Alex's third year teaching at NSD, and he is looking forward to another great summer in Minneapolis and San Antonio. 

Debate interests: Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Moral philosophy, postmodernism

First Year Out Staff

Grant Brown

Grant Brown debated for a year locally at Ralston High School and three years nationally at Millard North High School in Omaha, Nebraska. He is the team president and has accumulated twelve career bids while qualifying thrice to the Tournament of Champions, reaching quarterfinals his junior year, and twice to NSDA Nationals clearing to elimination rounds both years. Grant reached elimination rounds of numerous bid tournaments including Dowling, Iowa Caucus, Valley, Harvard, The Glenbrooks, Apple Valley, and Blake. Most notably Grant was a Nebraska State Champion, quarterfinalist twice at Valley and top speak his senior year, semifinalist at Apple Valley, and two time champion of Dowling Catholic. Grant plans to study Religion, Anthropology, and Sociology.

Debate Interests: Postmodernism, specifically Deleuze/Guattari and spirituality, nuanced philosophically influenced positions, and experimental performativity and aesthetics within academic debate.  


Richard Cook

Richard debated for four years at Strake Jesuit, qualifying for both the TOC and TFA three times. During his senior year, he won St. Marks and UT. He won the top speaker award at both St. Marks and Grapevine, while also winning speaker awards at Greenhill, Glenbrooks, and Apple Valley. Throughout his debate career, he has earned bids at Apple Valley, St. Marks, Greenhill, Emory, Valley, UT, and Grapevine. Outside of debate, he enjoys playing tennis and chess. 

Debate Interests: Kant, Theory/Topicality, Agamben

Zoe Ewing

Columbia University 2021

Zoë has debated at Scarsdale High School for four years and currently serves as team captain. She qualified to the TOC twice and has 8 career bids. So far, she has bid and made it to at least quarters of every tournament she's attended senior year. She won the 2016 NSD Camp Tournament and was in finals of the New York City Invitational, Princeton (twice), Columbia, the Valley Round Robin, and the Hockaday Round Robin. Outside of debate, she enjoys writing, volunteer tutoring, and politics. She is attending Columbia University in the fall.

Debate interests include: Judith Butler, Theory/topicality, Burden Structures


Jordan Farenhem

Jordan debated at Pembroke Pines Charter High School for four years and is currently LD Captain. He qualified to the Florida State tournament three times, to NSDA Nationals as a junior, and to TOC a senior. He closed out the Crestian Tradition and Crestian Round Robin, reached finals of the Florida Blue Key Round Robin (twice), reached quarters at the Florida Blue Key and the Florida State Championship (twice), and reached octos at the New York City Invitational. Besides debating, he likes eating garlic bread, browsing through memes, and looking at pictures of and petting cats.

Debate Interests: State Ks, Theory, and Skepticism

Katherine Fennell

Katherine debated for Stuyvesant High School for four years, and served as the team’s novice director and captain during her junior and senior year. She reached elimination rounds at Bronx, Scarsdale, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Ridge, Columbia, Blake, Newark, Glenbrooks, and Sunvitational, and received speaker awards at Lexington, Scarsdale, Yale, Newark, Blake, and Glenbrooks. She was the champion of the Byram Hills Round Robin, and got to finals of the New York State Championship. Outside of debate, Katherine plays the violin and loves to cook.

Debate Interests: Deleuze, Identity Politics, and Topicality


TJ Foley

TJ competed for five years at West Des Moines Valley High School. As a debater, he qualified to attend the Tournament of Champions twice with a total of eight career bids. He championed or got to finals of Blake, Dowling, and Iowa Caucus and is the three time Iowa State Debate Champion. He was first speaker of Dowling, Blake, State, and was the second speaker at Glenbrooks. Outside of debate, TJ founded a nonprofit that does humanitarian work in El Salvador, Cuba, and Taiwan and started a Political Action Committee dedicated to involving young people in the political process. He plans to pursue a degree in International Relations next year.

Debate Interests: Contract Theory, Political Philosophy, and Side-Constraint Ethics

Trent Gilbert

Princeton University Class of 2021

Trent competed in LD for five years at West Des Moines Valley High School. As a debater, he qualified to attend the Tournament of Champions three times and NSDA Nationals three times (Freshmen, Sophomore, and Junior Year). He also championed or got to finals of Blake, Apple Valley, Iowa Caucus (three times) and Dowling (two times). Outside of debate, Trent founded a computer programming club at a local elementary, is part of the Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council, and participated in many other activities. He is excited to attend Princeton University and study either Neuroscience or Computer Science this coming fall.

Debate Interests: Internalist/Motivationalist Ethics, Side-Constraint Based Ethics, and Theory



Shankar Krishnan

Shankar debated in LD for Ridge High School, dabbling once or twice in Congress and Worlds Schools, and currently serves as his team Vice President. He qualified twice to the TOC with six career bids and cleared to elimination rounds at every bid tournament he attended in his career. He has been an NCFL Quarterfinalist and three-time qualifier in addition to being an NSDA Elimination Rounds participant and two-time qualifier. At the New Jersey State Championship, he was State Champion and first seed his senior year, and top speaker his junior year. Outside of debate, he enjoys playing basketball, reading, and being a part of Kaztremski Rex.

Debate Interests: Fanon, Asian American Pedagogy, Persuasive Speaking

Michael Landau

Michael has debated for Scarsdale High School for four years. He received a bid to the TOC at Blake his senior year. He has also reached bid rounds at Yale, Bronx, and Lexington and has reached elimination rounds at Newark and Princeton. Outside of debate, Michael is an avid golfer, playing on the varsity team at his school. Debate Interests: Theory, Kant, and Burden Structures


Evan McKinney

Evan has debated at WDM Valley High School for five years. He qualified to the TOC twice and has 4 career bids. Evan has reached elims at Yale, Iowa Caucus, Apple Valley, Dowling, Blake, and various regional tournaments. Outside of debate, Evan is the President of National Honor Society and a member of the varsity tennis team. He is attending Iowa State in the fall to study computer engineering. 

Debate interests: Analytic philosophy, tricks, and theory



David Moon

Harvard University 2021

David Moon debated at Collegiate for four years, qualifying to the Tournament of Champions in his senior year with bids at Apple Valley and Harvard. He also won speaker awards at Glenbrooks and Grapevine. David will attend Harvard University in the fall. His interests in debate include creatively topical affirmatives, critical race theory, and the art of begging for speaker points. David’s non-debate-related interests include playing basketball, herpetology, and obsessively poring over memes


Xavier Roberts-Gaal

Xavier is Student President of the Walt Whitman Speech and Debate Team and an LDer at Walt Whitman HS. He is a two-time semifinalist at NCFL Nationals, a qualifier to NSDA Nationals, and recently, a qualifier to TOC. He has directed LD Tab for the 2015 Capitol Beltway Invitational hosted by Walt Whitman. Outside of debate, he enjoys cooking, playing piano, reading philosophy, and swimming. 

His debate interests include Kant and post-Kantian philosophy; Levinas; Asexuality studies.


Stephen Scopa

Stephen debated in LD at Pines Charter for 3 years. His junior year he qualified to nationals where he earned 9th place and auto qualified for next year. His senior year he qualified to ToC and won Crestian RR, Crestian, and came second at blue key. He's never attended camp, so he'll have a unique perspective on tech debate, considering all his knowledge has just come from experience in round. In his free time he enjoys playing and watching basketball and football. 

Debate interests: Tricks (a priori’s, skep triggers, etc), Theory, and Critical Race Theory (Curry, Wilderson, and Warren)


Lauren Singer

Yale University 2021

Lauren has debated at Scarsdale High School for four years and currently serves as the team's Novice Director. As a senior, she qualified to the TOC, earning bids at Valley and Princeton. She has reached elimination rounds at many other tournaments including Yale, Blake, Harvard, Newark (three times), and Princeton (twice). She has also placed in the top 5 of the New York State Championship twice and received speaker awards at Blake and Princeton. Outside of debate, Lauren loves science, biking, and baking. In the fall, she will attend Yale University, where she plans to study Cognitive Science.

Debate interests: Levinas, Radical Democracy, and Topicality


Chris Sun

Chris has debated for Millburn High School (NJ) for four years on the national and local circuits. So far his senior year, he’s received three bids to the TOC, reaching octafinals at Bronx, finals at Scarsdale, and semifinals at Lexington. Throughout his career, he’s cleared at many other tournaments like Harvard, Glenbrooks, Valley, Blake, and Yale, and received speaker awards at Scarsdale, Bronx, and Princeton. In his junior year, he was the first seed and second speaker at the New Jersey State Championship. During his spare time, he enjoys reading books, running, and watching as much Netflix as possible. 

Debate Interests: Theory, Kant, and creative applications of truth testing.


Gillian Zipursky

Gillian has debated for Scarsdale High School for four years. She has qualified to the TOC twice earning bids at Beltway, Blake, Harvard, Valley, Bronx, and Newark. She has reached at least the bid round of every tournament she has attended senior year and has gotten speaker awards at Yale, Bronx, Glenbrooks, Newark, and Lexington this year. She co-championed Blake and Beltway and attended the Sunvite, Hockaday, and Newark Round-Robins. Outside of debate, she enjoys swimming, neuroscience, and reading. 

Debate Interests: Theory/Topicality, Kant, and Foucault


The NSD Flagship Institute is located at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Easily accessible from the Minneapolis,- St. Paul Airport (MSP), the University of Minnesota provides a collegiate and communal atmosphere that helps foster a community and work environment so as to create a positive experience for NSD students. The West Bank Campus, where NSD is held, is surrounded by a vibrant and safe community with many restaurants and attractions within walking distance of the campus.

Students will be staying in Middlebrook Hall, located in the heart of the West Bank Campus.The dorm rooms are air-conditioned. The extra-long twin beds are made with sheets, a pillow, pillowcase and blanket by University staff prior to check-in. A towel, a set of sheets and a pillowcase, a pillow, and a blanket are provided for each student. There is a front desk attendant on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Report maintenance or housekeeping needs to the front desk. Students and staff can exchange linens at any time at the front desk.

NSD provides students with Lunch and Dinner services. Lunch is provided in the Coffman Union, a short walk from the dorm, which has several popular restaurants (Chik-fil-A, Einstein’s, Panda Express) as well as a host of university provided food options served cafeteria style. Dinner is held at the Middlebrook Dining Hall, in our dorm, which provides made-to-order and other hot food options. Students are able to get snacks and sundries throughout the day in the Blegan Hall Market, which is in the same building where the majority of instruction occurs.

Breakfast food is not provided by NSD. Students and staff should bring granola bars, pop tarts, cereal, fruit or other ready-to-eat breakfast food to campus with them. Additional food can be purchased at the campus mini mart stores as needed. Sinks and microwaves are available on each floor, but no toasters or hotplates are allowed.

Student Supervision is provided by NSD Executive Directors, Administrative Staff and faculty. Students are expected to attend all activities unless they are feeling unwell, in which case they should contact our Camp Administrators. Attendance is monitored by staff. There is roll call in the morning and room checks at midnight.

General security is provided by the University of Minnesota Police Department as well as the 24-hour dorm staff in Middlebrook Hall that are always available to NSD and it’s students.

Computer access and library use are available. We strongly encourage students to bring their own laptops. University of Minnesota computers are also available for use in the computer labs and the Cyber Café in the dorm and throughout the library. Printing costs $.05 a page and is at student and staff expense. The campus is wireless, but bring an Ethernet cable and USB flash drive for use as needed. Students may not add to or tamper with the computer systems on campus.

There will be a Free Day midway through camp. There are no classes until after dinner. Students can walk to restaurants and stores near campus, go bowling or play pool at the Coffman Memorial Student Union, play pool, or play other games of choice. Students who leave campus sign out with a friend or friends, noting their destinations. On campus meal arrangements are the same as on other days of NSD.


The National Symposium for Debate’s top lab is arguably the most prestigious Lincoln-Douglas debate lab in the country. Each summer, many of the debate's most successful debaters prepare for the coming year of competition by participating in NSD’s top lab. The lab teaches a curriculum designed to comprehensively prepare students to succeed in the current debate environment, helping students reach an elite level of mastery of their core debate skills while also teaching them how to employ these skills in relation to the latest trends in debate. Each year, top lab students leave camp having achieved technical aptitude, mastery of debate strategy, and a set of innovative ideas and projects that they depend on during the upcoming season. This year, only a few months into the competitive season, all but one student from this past summer’s top lab had already qualified to the Tournament of Champions. 

This summer, the NSD Flagship Top Lab will again be led by NSD Executive Director Tom Evnen and Becca Traber. Tom and Becca each have numerous years of experience both coaching and teaching at the highest levels of competitive debate and an educational background that makes them apt to teach the highest levels of debate; Tom has a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Chicago and Becca is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science/Political Theory at Yale University. Over the years, Becca and Tom have anchored 6 highly successful top labs together; they approach lab each summer with a deep understanding of how to teach effectively together and with a curriculum that they have worked for years to adapt, refine, and update. 

Each year, the senior instructors in top lab are joined by two of our most capable and successful younger teachers. For example, last summer Tom and Becca were joined in teaching by TOC Quarterfinalist and Big Bronx Champion Shivane Sabharwal from Mission San Jose (CA) and  TOC Octafinalist and UT Austin Champion Sean McCormick from Strake Jesuit (TX). The previous summer, 2015 Big Bronx Champion and TOC Octafinalist Varun Bhave from Torrey Pines (CA) and 2014 TOC Finalist Chris Kymn from Loyola High School (CA) were top lab’s 3rd and 4th instructors.

For the most elite students in the country, NSD’s top lab has no match. Stay tuned for staff and curricular announcements in the future! 

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The fees for NSD Flagship 2017 are listed below. NSD is currently accepting applications and will stop when full. Regular applications are due May 30th and financial aid applications are due May 15th. 

Main Session (6/25 – 7/15): $3,895
Main Session + 4th Week (6/25 – 7/22): $4,895

How to Apply: Parent and student read 1—9 below before you begin.

1.     Read the NSD rules.

Download PDF Rules

2.     Fill out the application here.

NSD Flagship Application

   If you are applying for financial aid and/or a segment of a camp, click this link below.

  Financial Aid/Camp Segment Application Page

3.     Copy the front and back of your medical insurance card and your immunization record on one piece of paper.

4.     Send your your medical insurance and immunization page to:
3201 South St. #112
Lincoln, NE 68502

5.     Students will be notified of their acceptance/rejection within approximately three weeks after a complete application and payment are received. No student is accepted until their payment has cleared

6.    Students should not make travel plans until they have been notified of their acceptance.

7.     NSD charges a $150 service fee if your student chooses to fly as an unaccompanied minor. Parents should plan to accompany students who cannot travel alone or arrange travel with another student.

8.     In April, students will receive an email with travel action items so that they can report their travel plans in accordance with directions given there. Submit travel plans as directed by June 1, or sooner.

9.     Acceptance to NSD will be revoked for any student who does not follow the travel directions.