Why should I prefer a debate camp specifically designed for middle schoolers?
Other national caliber debate camps that are designed for high school students haven’t carefully crafted their curriculum to best fit the needs of the few middle school students who also attend. In some cases, this means that middle school debater does not have the opportunity to optimize their experience at camp. However, NSD Middle School is able to tailor its curriculum to serve both students’ immediate goals of improving and their more distant goals of becoming successful high school debaters, scholars, and then graduates of elite colleges.
NSD Middle School is also safer and better suited to helping middle school students develop into high achieving and well-rounded high school school students, who will be able to excel at even the most stressful high school summer debate camps. On the other hand, high school debate camps tend to cultivate a culture and create a level of supervision designed for students who are older, with more experience navigating interpersonal problems, and prepared to be more independent learners. We think this usually makes high school camps a bad fit for a middle school debater, especially those who want to develop the ability to become state and national champions. At NSD Middle School, the entire camp—from the curriculum to the schedule to the level of supervision—is designed for a singular purpose: creating a safe, fun, and intellectually-emboldening experience for middle school debaters.
What’s so special about NSD Middle School Institute?
NSD Middle School is unique because it marks the first time that one of the major national high school LD debate camps has invested in developing an equally rigorous LD institute for middle school debaters. NSD Flagship has been one of the elite LD institutes for nearly a decade. And the Institute Director, Kris Wright, brings with him 8 years experience directing summer debate institutes, including the Texas Debate Collective (TDC)—one of the nation’s most accomplished LD debate institutes for students and teachers.
What are the benefits of attending camp for 2 weeks instead of only 1 week?
Besides benefiting from the additional instruction and learning that two weeks allows, students two choose this option will also be assigned a staff mentor to provide additional one-on-one help. Additionally, each student enrolled in the 2-week session will receive a post-camp evaluation that summarizes, with evidence, areas the student has demonstrated improvement, areas the student should continue to work on improving, and suggested drills and activities that the student’s coach (and/or the student themselves) can use to continue building on the growth from camp. With parent/guardian permission, NSD Middle School Director Kris Wright will also send an email to the student’s coach that explains how hard the student worked and how much they improved at camp. Kris will share with the coach the areas that the student needs to continue improving, including suggested drills the coach can do with the student to help them work on those weaknesses.
Will campers be able to exercise or take part in non-debate activities?
Yes. There will be time and opportunities for morning exercises. And on several nights each week, nightly office hours will end early so that campers and staff can play board games, read
for leisure, or participate in other fun, well-supervised group activities. Campers will also enjoy experiencing some benefits of the University’s amazing intellectual and cultural resources.
Will there be any “days off”?
There is a free day midway through camp where classes are suspended and students and staff engage in fun group activities. Some parents, if they live nearby, may like to use this day to spend with their student until courses resume the next day.
What if I’ve never debated before?
Great! We’d love to help you learn to love debating and to become an excellent debater in the process. A lot of the learning takes place within their lab group, which is kind of like a small, homeroom class taught by 2-3 instructors. When we are placing students into their lab, we aim to match up debaters with similar levels of experience so that the instructors can tailor their instruction to best ensure that all of the students are learning and seeing themselves significantly improve through their hard work.
What if I already have some experience debating?
Great! Wed’ love to help you improve so that you can accomplish whatever ambitious goals you’ve set for yourself next school year. A lot of the learning takes place within their lab group, which is kind of like a small, homeroom class taught by 2-3 instructors. When we are placing students into their lab, we aim to match up debaters with similar levels of experience so that the instructors can tailor their instruction to best ensure that all of the students are learning and seeing themselves significantly improve through their hard work.
What if I debate, but I don’t normally compete in the Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate format?
That’s okay—the knowledge, skills, and confidence that NSD Middle School will help you develop transcend debate events. And if you normally compete in a team event, learning to debate by yourself for the summer will give you the opportunity to really refine your own skills and understanding, which will ultimately make you an even better debate partner. And the NSD Middle School camp is well prepared to help you do just that. The camp director, Kris Wright, is also experienced in coaching team debate, having coached TFA State Championships in both LD and Policy debate, in addition to multiple qualifiers and elimination round participants at the Tournament of Champions and NSDA Nationals.
Is there a camp tournament?
There isn’t an official camp tournament because we’ve found that tournaments tradeoff with instruction and other kinds of practice debates that are better uses of time at a camp. However, students will have lots of opportunities to debate and to put their learning to the test. Students will debate in at least 4 practice rounds, 3 stop-start rounds (where the instructor judging the round, stops the round during each student’s speeches, gives feedback and then has the student redo that speech), and countless drills, mini-debates, and strategy competitions.
I live in Houston (or I’m from out of town but my parents want to stay in the area while I’m at camp). Can I commute back and forth to camp each day, instead of rooming in the dorms?
When do students check out of camp?
For the first one-week session, check out is on July 22. Check for the second one-week camp and the two-week camp is July 29. Parents can pick up their students to go home from 8am to 1pm on their respective check out date.