Director: Ben Kessler

NSD’s Public Forum camp offers a personalized approach to debate curriculum, focused on the practical application of skills in small groups. Our curriculum embraces all skill levels and includes constructive lab periods where students will do several practice drills and practice rounds each day, as well as lectures on fundamental debate skills. By hiring more staff per student than other camps and by spending nearly all our instructional time in groups of fewer than 10 students, we strive to create a close-knit environment that allows our instructors to know where each student needs help. Click here to return to the home page and read about why NSD does it better. Look below to learn more about the PF session!

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. 

Practice Rounds

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.


Staff for Summer 2019 is continually being updated!

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Ben Kessler, Director of NSD Public Forum

Ben Kessler debated for Stuyvesant High School and earned 15 bids to the Tournament of Champions, where he semifinaled. Ben also championed the Blake Tournament, the George Mason Invitational, the Columbia Invitational, and the NCFL Grandnational Championship. Since graduating, Ben has coached teams from Hunter High School in New York. In 3 years, his teams have cumulatively amassed 27 bids to the Tournament of Champions, where 2 of his teams have advanced to the octafinal round. His teams have also championed the New York City Invitational, Columbia Invitational, Princeton Invitational, and Villiger Invitational, been invited to the Harvard Round Robin 5 times, and been ranked in the top 10 in the country every year he’s coached.

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Dakota Champagne

Dakota Champagne is a graduating senior at the Packer Collegiate Institute where she co-founded the forensics program. In her three years of debating, Dakota has advanced to elimination rounds at various national tournaments, and in her senior year, Dakota co-championed the Westchester Classic, qualified to the TOCs, and reached quarters at the NCFL. Dakota attended NSD as a student and is excited to return this summer as an instructor!


Kayla Chang

Kayla Chang attended Newton South in MA where she was a co-captain of the debate team. As a debater, she advanced to out rounds at tournaments like Princeton, GMU, Columbia, and Lex, notably octafinaling at Harvard, finaling at UPenn, and championing Massachusetts States. Kayla is currently a sophomore at UC Berkeley and has since worked as an assistant coach at the Nueva School, where her students have reached late out rounds at tournaments like the UK Season Opener and the Cal Invitational. 

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Ilana Cuello-Wolffe

Ilana Cuello-Wolffe debated for the Dalton School for three years. She qualified to the Tournament of Champions my junior and senior year, reaching out rounds her senior year. Ilana reached elimination rounds at many national circuit tournaments, including the New York Invitational, Princeton, Harvard, Ridge, and many others. She quarterfinaled at the New York State Championship her senior year. Ilana received many speaker awards including third speaker at Princeton, Ridge, Villiger, and top speaker at the Byram Hills Invitational and the Westridge Round Robin. Additionally, she qualified for the NSDA National Tournament her senior year. She is very excited to work at NSD this summer!


Caden Day

Caden competed in PF for four years at Strake Jesuit. He has received 7 career bids, reaching late elimination rounds at tournaments such as Bellaire, Laird Lewis, Grapevine, Plano West, and TFA State and clearing at Glenbrooks, Apple Valley, and many other tournaments. Most notably, Caden and his partner RJ were the first team from Texas to qualify to the TOC three times in a row. Caden will be a freshman in Plan II Honors at the University of Texas at Austin next year and he is excited to work at NSD this summer.

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Malcolm Davis

Malcolm was co-captain of the debate team at Newton South High School in Massachusetts. As a debater, he championed the Bronx Round Robin, finished second the Harvard Round Robin, finished second at Columbia, reached semifinals of the Yale Invitational, and reached quarterfinals of the Tournament of Champions. Since graduating, Malcolm has worked as an assistant coach at Strath Haven High School in Pennsylvania. Malcolm's students have championed the Bronx Round Robin, the Villiger invitational at St. Joseph's University, the Lexington Winter Invitational, and reached quarterfinals at the Tournament of Champions.

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Jonathan Evans

Jonathan Evans debated for four years at Stuyvesant High School, earning 4 bids to the Tournament of Champions. Jonathan reached semifinals at Blake and GMU and was top speaker at Harvard. Jonathan has also competed in British Parliamentary debate in college, reaching the finals of the Nottingham and Cornell IVs. Jonathan has continued to coach PF in the 4 years since he graduated from high school, and this year, Jonathan coached a team to elimination rounds at the TOC.

Anson Fung

Anson Fung is a graduate of Rice University and has been a Strake Jesuit debate coach for the past four years. During those years, Anson has coached 27 Gold TOC bids and many, many Silver TOC bids. Anson debated in public forum for one year in high school and won the University of Texas tournament and placed third at TFA state.

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Zach Ginsberg

Zachary Ginsberg debated for four years at Stuyvesant High School, serving as the president of the team in his senior year. He earned a total of 13 bids to the Tournament of Champions and finished his senior year ranked 1st in the nation. Zach reached semifinals or further at Blake, GMU, Ridge, Bronx, Scarsdale, Glenbrooks, and Princeton and was a top 5 speaker at Bronx, Harvard, and Columbia. Zach now attends Columbia University, where he has stayed involved in PF by coaching. This is Zach’s 3rd straight summer teaching at NSD!

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Amala Karri

Amala is a graduating senior at Hunter College High School and serves as the president of the debate team. Over 4 years, she has amassed 9 bids and one auto-qualification to the Tournament of Champions. She has reached semifinals at Harvard and Princeton, and has finaled at UPenn and Ridge. She also received a top 5 speaker award at Harvard, Princeton, Lexington, Ridge, and UK. She attended NSD as a student for the past two years and is excited to return this summer an instructor!

Zoë Kaufmann

Zoë Kaufmann competed for Walt Whitman High School for 4 years and served as co-captain of the team her senior year. As a debater, she qualified to TOC her senior year, as well as reaching semis at Columbia and many outrounds at other tournaments. She received speaker awards at Columbia and other tournaments and was ranked as high as 38th nationally. As one of the few competitively successful female second speakers with a male partner, Zoë has made it a priority to mentor younger female debaters and lead team-wide discussions about discrimination in her role as team captain at Walt Whitman.

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Ethan Kim

Ethan Kim is a graduating senior at Horace Mann School in New York, where he serves as a team president. He has qualified to the Tournament of Champions twice and has reached late elimination rounds at tournaments such as Columbia, Princeton, Bronx and Blake. He is also a 3-time qualifier to NSDA nationals, where he has placed as high as 14th. He attended NSD last summer as a student and is excited to be back as an instructor!

David Kinane

David Kinane competed for Unionville High School, where he served as the PF Captain. He has recieved 6 bids in his career, becoming the first debater in his school's history to attend the TOC, where he reached elimination rounds. Additionally, he reached quarterfinals at Emory and Upenn, semifinals at Lexington, and won Villiger. He also has experience in policy debate, where he finaled at Upenn his senior year. David is excited to coach at NSD this summer!


Grace Luckett

Grace Luckett debated for three years at The Packer Collegiate Institute, where she founded the school’s forensics program. Grace has reached outrounds at several major tournaments, and in her senior year, she qualified to the Tournament of Champions, reached quarterfinals of the NCFL Grand National Tournament, and co-championed the Lakeland Westchester Classic. Grace attended NSD as a student and is excited to return this summer as an instructor!

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Sajan Mehrotra

Sajan Mehrotra is a graduating senior at Horace Mann School in New York. He has qualified to the Tournament of Champions twice and reached late elimination rounds at a variety of national tournaments, including quarterfinals at Bronx and Blake. In addition, he was a top 10 speaker at Bronx, Blake, and Harvard. During his junior year, he placed 14th and received an autoqual at NSDA nationals. He attended NSD last summer as a student and is excited to be back as an instructor!

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Cale McCrary

Cale McCrary is the head coach of Corona del Sol debate, and an assistant for the Quarry Lane and Brophy Prep debate programs. In his first two years as a coach, Cale has had multiple teams qualify to both the Tournament of Champions and NSDA Nationals, with tournament championships at the New York City Invitational, Golden Desert UNLV Tournament, and Millard North and Presentation Round Robins, and bids acquired at tournaments including The Glenbrooks, Yale Invitational, and Arizona State Invitational. Cale debated for Saint Mary’s Hall through 2016-2017, where he was consistently ranked in the top 30, with semi-final placements at TFA State & Grapevine.

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Jake Ryan

Jake Ryan debated for Unionville High School for the past two years. In total, he acquired four bids to the TOC, becoming the first team from Unionville to clear the tournament. He reached late elimination rounds at several tournaments, including octafinals at Emory and Princeton, quarterfinals at UPenn, and championing Villiger. Jake was a student at NSD last summer and can't wait to return as a coach!

RJ Shah

RJ competed in PF for four years at Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston, where he served as a co-captain his junior and senior years. He accumulated 6 bids to the TOC, while also reaching elimination rounds at Bellaire, Grapevine, Apple Valley, Glenbrooks, Sunvitational, Texas, Emory, and TFA state. Most notably, he and his partner are the first Texas PF team to have qualified for the TOC in three consecutive years. RJ will be a freshman at Duke University in the fall and is excited to join NSD this summer.

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Celia Silver

Celia Silver competed for Princeton High School for 4 years. As a senior, she was the co-president and Public Forum captain of her team. She qualified for the TOC both her junior and senior years, and was ranked as high as 4th in the nation. She has quarterfinaled at Yale and Princeton, octafinaled at the TOC and competed in the Harvard Round Robin. This is Celia's second year coaching at NSD!


Katherine Sylvester

Katherine has competed in PF for Walt Whitman High School for the past 4 years, where she’s currently the president of the speech & debate team. She qualified for tournaments including the TOC, NSDA Nationals, and NCFL Grand Nationals. In addition to earning many speaker awards—including top speaker at the Columbia and Georgetown University tournaments, 2nd speaker at the New York City Invitational, and 6th speaker at the Barkley Forum—Katherine advanced to late outrounds at many national tournaments, such as quarterfinals at the New York City Invitational and semifinals at Valley Mid-America Cup. She looks forward to working at NSD this summer!

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Gigi Wade

Gigi competed in Public Forum for four years at Evanston Township High School. Throughout her career, she semifinaled at Blake, championed Middleton, the Millard North Round Robin, and the Glenbrooks Round Robin, and qualified to the Tournament of Champions twice, reaching outrounds her senior year. Her individual accomplishments include top speaker at the Tournament of Champions, Mid-America Cup, Millard North, and the Glenbrooks Round Robin. Gigi will be a sophomore at Columbia University next year and she is very excited to work at NSD this summer!

The NSD Public Forum Institute takes place July 21-August 3 and 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.

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.

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 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. 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 Public Forum at Bryn Mawr College is accepting applications now!

NSD Public Forum (7/21 - 8/03): $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.

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.