Director: Benjamin Koh

NSD Philadelphia is a Lincoln Douglas Debate camp that offers the NSD, national circuit education in a two week session in the heart of Pennsylvania. We believe that the small camp environment, staff dedicated to teaching (multiple staff have ambitions for graduate school or becoming teachers), and high individual attention make NSD Philadelphia a perfect option for debaters who are unable to attend the Flagship Session or who desire a 2-week camp experience. Benjamin Koh, one of the most successful coaches in the Northeast Debate Circuit and at the tournament of Champions, will be leading the Top Lab. A Graduate Student in American Studies at Columbia University, Ben looks forward to integrating his work in Identity Politics (namely Race and Disability Studies) and High Theory into the Top Lab curriculum! 

Looking for a NSD national institute experience in a two week session? NSD Philadelphia is the right camp for you! Click here to read about why NSD does it better. We hope to see you at Bryn Mawr this summer! 


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.


NSD Philadelphia will 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). This gives students face to face time with staff beyond their own lab leaders and offers for specialized instruction based on the unique advantages of each staff member. 

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 Philadelphia will have at least 10 practice debates observed by instructors, who will provide feedback on what students should do to improve.

Return Soon for More Staff Announcements! 

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Benjamin Koh, Director of NSD Philadelphia

New York University BA in Social and Cultural Analysis

Columbia University MA Candidate in American Studies

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 three years straight. He is also on the planning committee for the Texas Debate collective and is the director for NSD Philadelphia. 

Click here to learn more


Adam Brown

Adam debated for Episcopal High School in Houston, Texas, graduating in 2016. As a debater, Adam qualified to TFA State twice, NSDA Nationals, and the TOC. He is currently a second-year student and Sociology major at Kenyon College, specifically focusing on African-Diaspora Studies and Sociological Theory. Adam's students, all small-school or lone-wolf debaters, have experienced massive success on the national circuit, overall reaching late elimination rounds at every national tournament attended and earning multiple qualifications to TFA state and the TOC. As a coach and instructor, Adam specializes in 'critical literature' (specifically the intersections of postmodern/continental philosophy and materialism/identity politics), the role of the ballot/judge debates, and theory/topicality. Outside of debate, Adam plays Ultimate Frisbee, has an unhealthy obsession with music, and has an ever unhealthier obsession with Whataburger.


Melissa Chau

University of South Florida ‘21 Melissa debated for Lake Highland and was co-captain her senior year. She broke at the Mid America Cup, Apple Valley, Lexington and cleared at NCFL and NSDA Nationals her senior year. She is currently studying biomedical engineering. Outside of debate she does research, reads poetry, and snaps Ben Koh about the weather in FL. Melissa’s debate interest include philosophy, kritiks, satire and Asian American pedagogy.


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Dino De La O

Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet High School, TX, '16

UT Austin, TX, '20

Dino De La O debated for four years at Law Magnet in Dallas and graduated in 2016. As a competitor, he qualified to the TOC his junior and senior years. During his senior year, he received 7 bids and advanced to the elimination rounds of every tournament he attended. As a coach, his students have championed Columbia, Lexington, the LHP RR, the Sunvitational, the Valley RR, Yale, and have cleared at the TOC. His students have also received 28 bids to the TOC this season.


Katherine Fennell

Stuyvesant High School, NY, '17

UC Berkeley, CA, '21

Katherine debated for Stuyvesant High School from 2013-2017, and served as the team’s novice director and captain during her junior and senior year. She advanced to elimination rounds at virtually every tournament she attended her junior and senior year, including reaching quarters of Harvard, semis of Glenbrooks, finals at the New York State Championships and championing the Byram Hills Round Robin. Katherine taught at NSD and TDC last summer, and now works as a coach for Debate Drills.


Mark Gorthey

Westlake High School, TX, '13

Columbia University, NY, '17

Mark debated for Westlake High School in Austin, Texas on the local and national circuit, qualifying to TFA State and the TOC. As a coach, six of his students have cleared at TOC, and have championed or finaled at Yale, Valley, Bronx, Apple Valley, Beltway, Princeton, Lexington, Columbia, and the Valley, Lexington, Harvard, Hockaday, and Penn Round Robins. His hobbies include skin care, yoga, and Rihanna




Trent Gilbert

West Des Moines Valley High School, IA, '17

Stanford University, CA, '21

Trent competed in LD for five years and now coaches 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). As a coach, Trent has had five students qualify to the Tournament of Champions and had students reach deep elimination rounds at major national tournaments consistently throughout the season. Trent currently attends Stanford University and is a computer science major with a focus on bio-computation. Outside of studies and coaching, he is part of the Stanford Debate Society, competing regularly on the Parliamentary Debate Circuit, and also works as a research assistant at the Stanford Neuroscience and Pain Lab. Trent is super excited to be coming back to NSD this summer because he's found working with students and observing their improvement incredibly redeeming and can't wait to get back to teaching!

Logan Reed

North Crowley High School, TX, '17

New York University, NY, '21

Logan competed in LD debate for three years for North Crowley High School in Texas. She qualified to TFA state twice, and received 3 bids to the TOC. In her senior year, she won St. James and was a finalist at Strake. She currently is a first-year college policy debater at NYU, where she has reached elimination rounds of several tournaments in both open and JV divisions. She also coaches several independent debaters across the country. Her debate interests include the intersection of race and queerness, (trans)gender studies, disability studies, and postmodern philosophy.


Stephen Scopa

Pines Charter High School, FL, '17

Florida State University, FL, '21

Stephen Scopa debated at Pines Charter High in LD for 3 years and is a first year out at FSU majoring in philosophy. He qualified to the TOC his senior year; earned 9th place at NSDA nationals; won Crestian; came second at Blue Key and FFL Varsity States; cleared at several national tournaments; and made it to several bid rounds. His students have qualified to the TOC, won a Finals Bid, qualified to FFL Varsity states, and cleared at most of the national tournaments they've attended. His debate areas of interest/ knowledge include analytic philosophy, tricks, and high theory. "I highly enjoyed working at NSD last summer and am excited to be back helping students reach their full debate potential and hopefully helping them enjoy a great learning experience!"


JP Stuckert

Strake Jesuit, TX, '14

University of Notre Dame, IN, '18

JP will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and Economics from 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 individual students who received a total of 8 bids, and coached Walt Whitman High School starting this year. Since graduation he has led 11 labs at NSD’s Flagship Session, NSD Philadelphia, TDC, and Strake Jesuit’s middle school camp. Outside of debate JP enjoys swimming, reading classic works of fiction and intellectual history, and annoying Ben Koh. His debate interests Aristotelian philosophy, quantitative and qualitative methodologies in empirical social science, and meta-ethics in general

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Jayanne Forrest

Ft. Lauderdale High School, FL, '18

Jayanne debated for Fort Lauderdale High School for four years, and was captain her senior year. Throughout her career, Jayanne won JV Harvard in Lincoln Douglas, the UF Blue Key tournament in policy, finaled at the Sunvitational where she received her first bid, and qualified to both the national and Florida state tournaments in Policy. Outside of debate, Jayanne is the captain of her school’s girl’s track team and runs her own online phone case company. Jayanne’s personal passions include singing/songwriting, dancing, bell hooks, Kanye, food and the color yellow. "I’m excited to teach at NSD because I want to share what I learned about the literature base with others and remind black women in debate that there is a space for them. I would also love to give back to an academic community and activity that has impacted me so much."

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Kyle Kopf

West Des Moines Valley High School, IA, '18

University of Iowa, IA, '22

Kyle debated for Valley High School for six years. He received one bid his junior year and qualified to TOC his senior year. He has reached elimination rounds at many national circuit tournaments, including: Voices, Apple Valley, Blake, Blue Key, and Lexington. Outside of debate, Kyle enjoys being politically involved, watching The Walking Dead, and watching Minnesota Vikings football. Kyle will be attending the University of Iowa in the Fall where he will study political science. Kyle looks forward to teaching at NSD because he is passionate about the impact debate can have on people and hopes to help the students have a good time!

Carly Rieger

West Des Moines Valley High School, IA, '18

Carly debated for four years at 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.

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Ananta Wadhwa

Scarsdale High School, NY, '18

University of California Los Angeles, CA, '22

Ananta Wadhwa debated for Scarsdale High School for four years and served as Lincoln Douglas Captain during her senior year. Ananta consistently broke at national tournaments throughout her career, finishing in octo-finals at the 2017 Princeton Classic and triple octo-finals at the 2017 Blake Invitational and the 2017 Yale Invitational. She also serves as a Novice Officer at Scarsdale and last summer, she was a Lab Leader at the Urban Debate League in NYC. Ananta’s debate interests consist of theory and most types of phil. Outside of debate, she loves music, singing, working out, and watching Netflix. She will be attending UCLA this coming fall where she will be studying molecular, cell, and developmental biology. Ananta is really looking forward to teaching at NSD this summer!

The NSD Philadelphia Institute is located at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. Easily accessible from the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) as well as by Amtrak Train and SEPTA local transportation, Bryn Mawr College provides an intimate, liberal arts setting that encourages a close knit camp community. Bryn Mawr is a safe suburb of Philadelphia that provides students and staff with easy and safe access to a variety of restaurants and shops walking distance from campus.

Bryn Mawr has 24/7 Housing Staff always available to NSD and its students. We will be staying in Merion Hall, with air conditioning in every room.

NSD provides students with Lunch and Dinner services. Consistently ranked in the national top ten of campus dining, Bryn Mawr provides students with diverse and healthy meal options every day. Students are able to purchase snacks, sundries and coffee at the University Bookstore and at several restaurants in the Campus Center.

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.

Student Supervision is provided by NSD Institute 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 Administrator, Terrence Lonam. Attendance is monitored by staff. There is roll call in the morning and room checks at midnight.

General security is provided by Brwn Mawr Campus Security as well as the security forces of other schools in the Tri-College Partnership, including the Swarthmore College Department of Public Safety and Haverford College Campus Safety.

Computer access and library use are available. We strongly encourage students to bring their own laptops. 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, hang out at the Campus Center, play games of choice, or attend supervised outings to local attractions. 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 Philadelphia is accepting applications now!

NSD Philadelphia for LD (7/15 - 7/28): $2,695

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 two 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.