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).


At NSD, each student will be assigned a mentor that they will see daily over the duration of camp. Meeting in either small group or individual group sessions, mentor time will be the concluding portion of the day where students are able to ask questions they may have had from lab that day, do drills, or be taught new and exciting topics that they're interested in learning about. In this time, students are able to make closer connections with their staff members and have somebody watching and checking in on their progress during their camp experience. 

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 for Summer 2019!


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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Traber Picture.jpg

Becca Traber, Associate Director

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 third summer with NSD.

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Sam Azbel

Bowdoin College BA

Sam debated for 1 year at Trinity Prep, and for 3 years at Lake Highland Prep. As a debater he received 5 bids to the TOC his senior year. Throughout Sam’s time as a coach several of his students have made it to elimination rounds at TOC. Sam’s students have have also won Valley, The New York City Invitational, Yale Invitational, Florida Blue Key, Scarsdale (twice), Princeton, Strake Jesuit/TDC, Lexington, Basking Ridge, The Valley Sophomore throw down, The Valley Round Robin, and have gotten to finals and semi-finals at many many more.


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 17 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 has recently coached the champions of St. Mark's in Dallas, TX, and the UT Austin Tournament. 

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Dave McGinnis

Macalester College BA

St. Cloud State University MS

Dave graduated from Apple Valley High School in 1993, where he was a state champion in speech and a national qualifier in Lincoln-Douglas debate. He co-founded the Macalester College Mock Trial team, winning JV Nationals and placing third at the American Mock Trial Association Grand Nationals in 1996. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English literature, and holds a Master’s Degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction. Also in 1996, Dave founded the Highland Park (MN) speech and debate team, which he coached for nine years. In 2005, Dave moved to California and coached the Lynbrook High School debate team. Currently, Dave is the head debate coach at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Dave’s students have reached the highest levels of debate success. Dave has qualified students to the TOC every year since 2000. He has coached students to the Top 10 at NFL nationals three times in eight years. His students have reached late elimination rounds at every major national tournament, including final round appearances at: Berkeley, Yale, Valley, Emory, and the Minnesota and California state debate tournaments, and tournament championships at: Apple Valley, Stanford, Cedar Rapids Washington, Omaha Westside, the Iowa state debate tournament, St. Mark’s, and the 2007 TOC. Dave also coached a finalist at the 2010 TOC.

Jenn Melin

Kris Wright

UT Austin BA/MA

Dino De La O

Alex Yoakum


Grant Brown

Millard North High School, NE ‘17

Swarthmore College, PA' ‘21

Grant Brown debated for Millard North High School in Omaha, Nebraska. He accumulated twelve career bids, reaching elimination rounds at Dowling, Iowa Caucus, Valley, Harvard, The Glenbrooks, Apple Valley, and Blake. He qualified thrice to the Tournament of Champions, clearing twice and reaching semifinals his senior year. He also cleared twice to elimination rounds at the NSDA National Tournament. Grant is currently an Assistant Coach at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida. His students have closed out Valley, championed Bronx, Dowling, and the Valley Round Robin, and have reached late elimination rounds of Yale, Apple Valley, the Glenbrooks, Harvard, Lexington, the University of Texas, the University of Houston, Blue Key, the Sunvitational and Strake Jesuit, acquiring a total of 28 bids to the Tournament of Champions. He is currently studying Philosophy at Swarthmore College.


Katherine Fennell

Stuyvesant High School, NY, '17

UC Berkeley, CA, '21

Katherine debated for Stuyvesant High School for four years and qualified to the Tournament of Champions her senior year. She has worked at NSD, NSD Philadelphia, and the Texas Debate Collective since 2017. She coaches students across the country. This year, her students have reached deep elimination rounds at the New York City Invitational, the Voices tournament, the Voices Round Robin, Greenhill, Scarsdale, and the University of Texas Longhorn Invitational, and have received top speaker awards at the New York City Invitational and St. Marks. They have amassed a total of 11 bids to the Tournament of Champions. Katherine is excited to work at NSD for her third summer because she loves helping students grow and challenge themselves. 


Stephen Scopa

Pembroke Pines Charter, FL ‘17

Florida State, FL ‘21

Stephen Scopa debate for Pembroke Pines Charter, and graduated in 2017. As a debater, Scopa Championed Crestian, reached finals at blue key and FL states, placed 9th at nationals his Junior year, and reached several bid rounds. He currently coaches several debaters independently, as well as coaching for American Heritage Plantation. As a coach, he his students have championed several tournaments, including Crestian (and RR) twice, Blue Key (and RR), Valley, and Sunvite, and his students have recorded 15 bids and many bid rounds. He is currently studying Philosophy and Religion at Florida State. His main debate interests include strategy, framework, and high theory. “I can’t wait to teach at NSD again, it’s a great opportunity to help students achieve their goals in one of the best activities high school has to offer.”


Zoe Ewing

Scarsdale High School, NY ‘17

Columbia University, NY ‘21

Zoë is excited to return to NSD for her sixth consecutive summer and third on staff! She debated for Scarsdale High School for four years and is now the Head LD Coach at Byram Hills High School. As a debater, she qualified twice to the TOC, accumulating nine career bids and clearing her senior year. She won or reached finals at Bronx, Princeton (twice), Columbia, the Hockaday Round Robin, the Valley Round Robin, and the NSD Camp Tournament. During her time coaching, her students have championed several national bid tournaments and cleared at the TOC. She taught top lab at NSD as a first year out and taught varsity labs at NSD and TDC her second year out. She strongly believes in creating an inclusive debate community and is an adult sponsor for Debate, an organization that matches non-male debaters with peer mentors. She believes that NSD is truly a family where students are encouraged to be intellectually curious, and is excited to win the staff kickball tournament again but hopes to not get injured again in the process


Brianna Aaron

Newark Science, NJ ‘17

Wake Forest University, NC ‘21

Brianna Aaron is currently a student at Wake Forest University and she debated for Newark Science (NJ) for six years. Over her two and a half year participation in Lincoln-Douglas, she has amassed 10 LD TOC bids and has reached elims and finals of various national tournaments. Her most notable achievements are championing the 2017 Glenbrooks Invitational, GBX round robin, the 2017 Blake Invitational, and winning the Dukes and Bailey cup for year long excellence as the top LD debater in the country. She also currently debates at Wake Forest and has been listed as one of the top 16 debaters in the country. Outside of debate, she loves to volunteer, go on strange movie binges, and eat copious amounts of chocolate chip cookies.


Ari Azbel

Lake Highland Prep, FL ‘18

Brown University, RI ‘22

Ari debated for Lake Highland for 5 years. As a competitor, he earned a total of sixteen career bids to the TOC, qualifying his sophomore, junior, and senior year. He also championed the New York City Invitational, earned top speaker of the Glenbrooks and reached late out-rounds of Apple-Valley, Glenbrooks, and Harvard. His students have thus far accumulated fifteen bids to the TOC and reached finals or championed Valley, Voices, UT, Puget Sound, and Alta.


Abhilash Datti

American Heritage Boca/Delray, FL ‘18

University of Central Florida, FL ‘22

Abhi debated for four years at American Heritage Boca/Delray and graduated in 2018. As a debater he championed the Florida Blue Key Round Robin, received 1 bid and attended the TOC his senior year. Abhi is currently a freshman at THE University of Central Florida studying finance. This will be his 3rd summer at NSD (1 as a student, 2 as an instructor), and he is excited to continue to help students improve.


Jayanne Forrest

Fort Lauderdale High School, FL ‘18

Columbia University, NY ‘22

Jayanne debated for Fort Lauderdale high school in Lincoln-Douglas and Policy debate during her 4-year career. She won JV Harvard LD in 2016, Co-championed Blue Key 2017 in Policy, finaled Sunvite 2018 in LD, and finished 3rd place at FFL state in policy debate. Jayanne loves Antiblackness literature, good Topicality debates, and performance in debate. Her outside interests include: the color yellow, food, music, The Weeknd, origami, track&field, and Panic! at the Disco.


Muhammad Khattak

Lake Highland Prep, FL ‘18

Stanford University, CA ‘22

Muhammad debated for Lake Highland for 5 years. As a competitor, he earned a total of twelve career bids to the TOC, qualifying his sophomore, junior, and senior year. He also championed the Strake Jesuit invitational, RR, Valley invitational, and reached late out-rounds of Bronx, Glenbrooks, and the TOC. His students have thus far accumulated fifteen bids to the TOC and reached finals or championed Valley, Voices, UT, Puget Sound, and Alta. He is currently pursuing a philosophy major and is looking forward to teaching at NSD this summer!


Carly Rieger

WDM Valley High School, IA ‘18

Knox College, IL ‘22

Carly debated for four years and currently coaches at West Des Moines Valley High School. She received one bid her junior year and qualified to the TOC her senior year, earning five career bids. She reached elimination rounds at multiple national bid tournaments, co-championing the Blue Key invitational and The Milo Cup at Millard North. She is also qualified to NSDA nationals and closed out the Iowa state tournament. Areas of expertise include: framework/philosophy, kritiks, and being the team mom.


Maya Sanghavi

Mountain View High School, CA ‘18

University of California Los Angeles, CA ‘22

Maya debated for three years on the local and national circuit for Mountain View High School in California and served as the team’s captain during her senior year. She consistently cleared at bid tournaments during her senior year, reaching bid rounds at Emory, Harvard-Westlake, and Stanford, and earning a bid at Berkeley. Her debate interests include theory/topicality and philosophy. She looks forward to teaching at NSD and sharing her love for debate!


Ananta Wadhwa

Scarsdale High School, NY ’18

University of California Los Angeles, CA ‘22

Ananta Wadhwa debated for Scarsdale High School for 4 years and served as LD Captain & Novice Officer during her senior year. As a debater, she consistently reached late elimination rounds at national circuit tournaments. She now attends UCLA where she studies molecular, cell, and developmental biology. She also coaches a few independent students during the school year. Ananta is super excited to be back at NSD for her second summer as a staff member and hopes to help students reach their full debate potential and have an amazing experience!


Reed Weiler

Lexington High School, MA, ‘18

American University, DC, ‘21

Reed debated LD for four years at Lexington High School. He went to TOC his junior and senior years, receiving 5 bids his senior year and reaching out-rounds of tournaments like Valley, Bronx, Glenbrooks, Emory, and Harvard along the way. He reached finals of the Blake invitational and Harvard Round Robin and championed the Bronx and Harrison Round Robins. As a coach, Reed’s students championed the Lexington, Scarsdale, and Harvard tournaments, accumulating over 6 bids and reaching numerous bid rounds. He has extensive experience as a summer camp counselor and greatly enjoys the act of teaching and helping students get better at debate. Reed taught Top Lab at NSD flagship last summer and can’t wait to return for another session. Apart from debate, Reed enjoys many other things like reading Stephen King novels, listening to and discussing music, and watching the Patriots win the super bowl. He loves to talk about philosophy and politics and is currently pursuing a degree in political science.


Pacy Yan

Stuyvesant High School, NY ‘18

New York University, NY ‘22

Pacy Yan, now a student at NYU, debated Lincoln-Douglas for four years at Stuyvesant High School, qualifying to the TOC her senior year. She was captain of her team her senior year and novice director her junior year. Throughout her career, Pacy has reached the bid round Blake, Newark, Lexington, Harvard, Penn, Yale, Emory, Columbia, and Glenbrooks, receiving bids at Lex and Newark. Pacy has received speaker awards at Yale, Blake, Scarsdale, Newark, Ridge, Columbia, and Lexington and has received invites to the Harrison, Newark, Byram, Apple Valley, and Harvard Round Robins. Pacy has qualified to the NYS championship four times, reaching semis in varsity her junior year and finals in intermediate her sophomore year. She has also qualified for and cleared at the Catholic Grands Nationals Tournament her junior year. Outside of debate, Pacy enjoys reading, writing, tutoring, and music.


Niko Battle

Kamiak High School, WA ‘19

Wake Forest University, NC ‘23

Niko Battle debated for a little over 5 years competing for Marist School, Mariner High School, and Kamiak High School; during their career they won numerous locals, a state championship, and qualified to the TOC four times, including double qualifying in both LD and Policy their senior year. So far, they have earned a total of 16 career bids (14 in LD and 2 in Policy). They will be debating for Wake Forest University starting in the fall, where they will compete in Policy Debate. Their expertise areas are mainly kritikal literature (Deleuze, Wilderson, Lacan, Warren, Sexton, and etc.); however, they also have expertise in LARP and theory debate. 


Andrew Garber

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, MA ‘’19

Andrew debated LD for Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, serving as co-captain of the debate team his junior and senior years. He accumulated eight career bids and won the Penn RR, the Lexington Winter Invitational, and Harvard; he also received top speaker at Newark, Lexington, and the Harvard RR. Outside of debate, Andrew likes running, eating, and playing with his dog Cassie.

Robbie Gillespie

American Heritage Plantation, FL ‘19

Joshua Herrera

Strake Jesuit, TX ‘19


Sesh Joe

Anderson High School, TX '19

Washington University in St. Louis, MO '23

Sesh debated for Anderson High School for four years. He qualified for TFA State every season, breaking as 4th seed his sophomore year. During his senior year, he received 5 bids at Glenbrooks, St. Mark's, Berkeley, UT, and Churchill. He championed the Strake Round Robin, the Winston Churchill Classic, and the Longhorn Classic, and received top speaker at the Strake Jesuit tournament, the Strake Round Robin and St. Marks.

Sai Karavadi

Quarry Lane, CA ‘19

Sai Karavadi debated LD on the national circuit at the Quarry Lane School for the past 3 years, breaking at numerous national bid tournaments. They also helped pioneer the LD program at their school, worked with younger debaters over the years, and was captain of their team their senior year. They earned 7 career bids and reached a total of 18 bid rounds. They were a semifinalist at the 2018 Presentation Invitational, quarterfinalist at the 2019 Bronx Invitational, co-championed the 2019 Newark Invitational, co-championed the 2018 MinneApple Round Robin, and were a double-octofinalist at the 2018 Tournament of Champions. They’ve also received multiple speaker awards, including 3rd speaker at the 2018 MinneApple Debates, top speaker at the 2018 Bronx Invitational, 13th speaker at the 2018 TOC, and top 10 speaker at multiple other tournaments, including Glenbrooks, Loyola, Greenhill, Presentation, and CPS. Sai also helped organize the Quarry Lane Womxn’s Tournament and worked with organizations to coach underprivileged debaters. Outside of debate, Sai enjoys singing, playing chess, and watching kdramas.


Beckett Larcher

Lake Travis High School, TX ‘19

Beckett Larcher debated independently at Lake Travis High School for 3 years. Beckett has received 5 bids to the Tournament of Champions, reaching the quarterfinals of the New York City Invitational and the Mid America Cup, Octafinals at both Greenhill and Apple Valley, and finals at the Lake Highland Round Robin. He was the 3rd speaker at both the Voices Invitational and the Lake Highland Round Robin, and was also the 5th speaker at the Mid America Cup. Beckett specializes in critical debate surrounding psychoanalysis and disability.

Claire Liu

Stuyvesant High School, NY ‘19

Claire Liu debated for Stuyvesant High School for four years and was team captain her senior year. She qualified to the Tournament of Champions her junior and senior year, accumulating a total of 4 career bids. She has championed the Scarsdale Invitational in addition to reaching late elims of other national tournaments. Her debate interests include kritiks and LARP. Outside of debate, she enjoys running and coding.



Ethan Massa

West Broward, FL ‘19

Ethan debated for West Broward High School in Florida, qualifying to the TOC both his Junior and Senior years. He has received a total of 8 career bids thus far, winning the Valley Mid America Cup and both the Tradition tournament and round robin twice. Additionally, Ethan has appeared in quarters of the New York City invitational as the top seed, quarters of Blake, as well as semis of the Lake Highland Round Robin. He also received speaker awards at Valley, Bronx, and Tradition. Ethan’s debate interests include meta-ethics, analytic philosophy, theory, and strategy. Ethan is incredibly excited to work at NSD this summer and hopes to make the camp experience worth while.

Matthew Moorhead

Appleton East, WI ‘19

Michael Ning

Hunter College, NY ‘19

Michael debated for four years at Hunter College High School in New York, serving as team president his senior year. As a competitor, he qualified twice to the Tournament of Champions, and broke to elimination rounds as a junior. He also cleared at every national circuit LD tournament he attended in his career, championing the Columbia Invitational, reaching semifinals of the Harvard and Newark Invitationals, and finaling the Penn and Byram Hills Round Robins. His interests in debate include util, kritiks, and theory. Outside of debate, he enjoys playing soccer and consuming iced coffee.

Varun Paranjpe

Mountain View, CA ‘19

Lindsey Perlman

Byram Hills High School, NY ‘19

Lindsey Perlman debated for Byram Hills High School for four years, serving as team captain for her junior and senior years. She qualified to the TOC three years in a row, reaching elimination rounds her junior year. In addition, she has championed the Yale Invitational, Princeton Invitational, the New York City Invitational, Scarsdale Invitational (twice), Lexington Invitational, and the Mid America Cup Round Robin. Outside of debate, she is part of her school’s construction crew and enjoys drilling and painting. 

Sachin Shah

Lake Highland Prep, FL ‘19

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Daniel Shahab-Diaz

Princeton High School, NJ ‘19

Daniel Shahab Diaz debated for Princeton High School for three years and was team captain his senior year. He qualified to the Tournament of Champions his senior year, accumulating a total of 2 career bids thus far. He reached finals at the Valley Invitational, and has reached the bid round or beyond at Princeton, Scarsdale, and Bronx. His debate interests include theory, philosophy, and LARP. Outside of debate, he enjoys skiing, hanging out with friends, and studying physics.

Rohith Sudhakar

Westview, OR ‘19


Conal Thomas McGinnis

WDM Valley High School, IA ‘19

Conal Thomas-McGinnis has received 5 bids to the TOC this year for 17 total over the span of his career. Conal’s debated since the 5th grade and specializes in theory, framework, and tricks. He’s particularly interested in writing and reading a prioris, Kantian positions, and theory. His interests outside debate include fantasy novels, Studio Ghibli films, and video games.


Tate Weston

James Bowie High School, TX ‘19

Tate debated for James Bowie high school in Austin Texas for four years. He qualified to the TOC his senior year, championed the University of Texas tournament, placed 3rd at the Strake Jesuit tournament and Round Robin, and received speaker awards at every tournament he attended. Tate's interests include almost all branches of kritik debate with a particular focus on Deleuze, Wynter, Baudrillard, and Lacan.


Julia Wu

Lake Highland Prep, FL ‘19

Julia Wu debated for Lake Highland Preparatory School for five years and was team captain her senior year. She qualled to the Tournament of Champions her sophomore, junior, and senior year, accumulating a total of 5 career bids so far. She championed the Florida Varsity State tournament and the New York City Invitational in addition to reaching late out rounds at other national tournaments. She was top speaker at the Mid America Cup and top ten speaker at Yale, Minneapple, Glenbrooks, and the Florida Blue Key. Her debate interests include philosophy, K’s, and theory.

Check back for our confirmed 2019 staff soon!

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.

Students should bring spending money. Generally, students will eat meals using their University meal plan. However, the meal plan does not cover free day, when an overwhelming number of students prefer to eat at a restaurant. In addition, there are some meals that students eat with their lab or mentor groups. These meals function as group bonding time, and groups often opt to dine out for these meals. Accordingly, students will need the ability to dine out for some meals. Beyond that, some students opt to dine out (or order in) more frequently than others. The amount of money a student should bring will depend greatly on their needs and preferences, but somewhere between $150 and $400 should be plenty for the typical student.

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 Free Days on Saturdays. 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.



NSD top lab was by far one of the best experiences of my life. Not only were my debate skills expanded, but also my mind. I think that I learned more with Tom and Becca in three weeks than I did in an entire semester at school. One of the things I really appreciated is that no matter what type of debater you wanted to be they were right there with you and helping you along the way.

- Niko Battle


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 7 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. In 2017, TOC Semifinalist Grant Brown and 2016 New York City Invitational Finalist Zoe Ewing taught in Top Lab. In 2015, 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, TOC Semifinalist 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. If you think you might be a candidate for top lab and are interested in learning more, please email Tom and Becca will be happy to answer questions and talk about the exciting things they have planned. Stay tuned for staff and curricular announcements in the future! 

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NSD top lab taught me a variety of debate concepts and skills that have helped me significantly during the season. The top lab leaders provided me and the other debaters personalized instruction that catered to our individual needs. This personalized education allowed me to develop my skills in reading and answering kritiks which has and contributed to my success this year. The rigorous curriculum and engaging assignments provided in top lab accelerated my growth in debate.

- Kyle Kopf


NSD Flagship is accepting applications now! 

Main Session (6/23 - 7/13): $3,895

Main Session + 4th Week (6/23 - 7/20): $4,895

Late registration is open until spots are filled. All of our sessions have filled up faster than ever- make sure you register soon! 

When you apply, you will be creating membership in a portal which will be our gateway to communicating with you for the rest of camp. You will not need to fill out detailed medical information or debate experience in the initial registration, that will come later! Over the course of the spring, we will ask for additional information from you in order to best tailor camp to your needs.

Click here to apply now!


We understand that sometimes it isn’t possible to attend camp for the full three weeks. If you have a conflict or would like to discuss attending camp for a subset of time, please email

We value our ability to make camp accessible to those who wish to attend. If you would like to apply for financial aid, please email for more information. You will be asked to provide information supporting your application, including 1040 tax forms. Financial Aid applications are due May 1st, but the earlier the better.

NSD does not broker, sell, or advise on insurance policies or services. However, as with any travel/activity plans that involve commitment and expense in advance, you might consider acquiring an insurance policy to protect the value of your camp registration and surrounding travel plans. After reviewing the Payment Terms & Conditions, you can assess whether an insurance policy might fit your needs.