NSD’s curriculum does it differently than most camps. Time in a camp day is limited, and two weeks is a short time, so our curriculum is designed to ensure everyone is taking full advantage of their camp experience. Far too many camps fill time with needless, carelessly thrown together lectures that teach theoretical skills in large group settings. At NSD, we dramatically limit lecture time and instead focus on the application of skills through extra practice rounds or drills done in small groups.
The extra practice round and drill time we offer allows us to ensure that students can actually apply the concepts they’ve learned. Often, students at other camps will understand what they have to do in theory, but will struggle executing or may not even notice where they’re messing up. NSD students avoid this problem simply because we spend so many more hours each day putting essential skills into practice. Some students may debate more rounds at NSD than they have in an entire year, all while they get feedback from our amazing instructors.
This kind of individualized attention is possible because NSD hires nearly twice as many staff per student as our competitor camps. Other camps are forced to give impersonal lectures because they lack the staff to break up into the small groups necessary to do extra rounds and drills. Without this restriction, we are able to spend time as productively as possible, giving each student the attention they deserve.
Students are grouped into labs based on experience level, and these groups form the backbone of the NSD experience. Lab pairings will always have no more than 12 students and are led by experienced instructors. Our lab time is also different from other camps, where instructors too often tell students to do topic research while they sit at the front of the room and wait to see if anyone has questions. At NSD, we will never do that. Having more instructors means we can take a hands-on approach, foregoing prep students could do at home for yet more drills and practice debates. At NSD, a lab of 12 will regularly break down into 3 separate groups of 4, each working on separate drills with separate instructors.
Other camps regularly combine labs to teach lectures to multiple labs at once, making lecture groups large and lectures less tailored to skill level (and therefore less helpful). The fewer lectures we do offer will never be taught like that. Instead, they will be tailored and taught to individual labs by at least two faculty members. NDF advertises that lectures will never have more than 55 students. NSD will never have more than 12.
At NSD, every student is guaranteed to compete against fellow campers in at least 20 practice debates. These debates will happen on past topics as well as the upcoming September/October topic for the 2019-2020 year. After each debate, instructors will provide extensive feedback on what students can do to improve. These practice rounds will culminate in the NSD Camp Tournament, which occurs at the end of camp and provides a final opportunity for students to showcase the skills they have learned.