Directors: Chris Castillo and Jenn Melin

NSD Texas is a two week intensive summer institute targeted towards the nuances of debating Lincoln-Douglas in the Texas region. We believe that the Texas circuit is one of the most competitive regions in the country, but moreover that debating and succeeding in Texas warrants a nuanced and specifically focused curriculum for the state; something that no other summer institute provides. Staffed by the best coaches and debaters in Texas, NSD Texas provides a comprehensive curriculum for success in the Lone Star state. Click here to read about our curriculum, mission, and why NSD does it better. Look below for information on the NSD Texas session!

NSD Texas is designed to provide a rigorous and supportive environment for Texas LD debaters at all levels of experience and success, and across diverse styles of debate. As one of the most competitive states for high school LD, Texas hosts a number of local circuits, each one competitive and unique. NSD Texas is primarily aimed at helping students from Texas develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel at all levels of competition, including the UIL, TFA, and TOC circuits. For students from other states wanting to do well at the TOC tournaments in the lone star state, NSD Texas will offer the opportunity to develop the keys to success with some of Texas’ most successful coaches and recent competitors. Click here for an overview of our curriculum and why NSD does debate camp better. Read below for the specificities of the Texas curriculum. 


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 Texas 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).

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 Texas 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!


Jenn Melin, Director of NSD Texas

University of North Texas, BA

Jenn Melin has been active in the national and Texas debate communities for fifteen years.  As a coach her students have been in out rounds of virtually every major national tournament. She has coached champions of the Grapevine and University of Texas TOC Bid Tournaments. Jenn has qualified thirteen different students to the TOC, with a significant number of those qualifications coming from small Texas programs with travel restrictions. She has qualified almost every student she’s ever coached to TFA State; culminating in a record setting fourteen LD qualifications in a single year. She coached the 2016 Grapevine runner-up.  Her students have participated in out rounds of both TOC and TFA. Jenn has also coached a UIL 5A State Champion.This will be her second year directing NSD Texas. 

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Chris Castillo, Director of NSD Texas

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 16 years as a coach, judge, tournament director, and institute director. A staple of the community and a common sight at nearly every one of the major tournaments, Chris was awarded the Bronx Achievement Award for his contributions to the debate community, and this year alone has coached the champions of St. Mark's in Dallas, TX, and the UT Austin Tournament. 

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Adam Brown

Kenyon College'20

Adam debated for Episcopal High School in Houston, Texas. As a debater, Adam qualified to TFA State twice, NSDA Nationals, and the TOC. Adam is currently a first-year student and prospective English and Sociology double major at Kenyon College. He coaches students from Montgomery, Klein Oak, and Earl Warren High School who, collectively, have been in late elims at every national tournament attended. Within debate, Adam enjoys researching and discussing continental philosophy, the role of the ballot/judge, methodology K’s, and theory and topicality. Outside of debate, Adam plays Ultimate Frisbee is a huge music nerd. 

Cameron McConway

UT Austin'20

Cameron McConway debated for three years at Cy-Fair HS in Houston, TX, qualifying to the TOC, TFA State, and NSDA nationals. She was a semifinalist and a top speaker at TFA, and was in the top 15 at NSDA nationals as a senior after being in outrounds as a junior. She was invited to numerous round robins and appeared in outrounds of many bid tournaments, recieving bids at Isidore Newman and Harvard Westlake. She actively judges at tournaments and coaches for Access Debate. Cameron now attends the University of Texas at Austin where she studies international relations and lobbies at the Capitol with University Democrats. Cameron is an active member of the UT Equestrian Team and enjoys spending time with her horse and competition partner of four years, Sebastian.


Alex Yoakum

Emory University '19

Alex Yoakum graduated from Grapevine High School in 2015. In his senior year he qualified to the TOC, receiving his bids from Greenhill and Minneapple, as well as reaching several bid rounds throughout his debate career. He also participated in the Greenhill and Bronx Round Robins. Currently, Alex is a philosophy and comparative literature double major at Emory University. In addition to his academics, he has presented papers on Queer Theory in undergraduate literature and philosophy conferences. This will be Alex's third year teaching at NSD, and he is looking forward to another great summer in Minneapolis and San Antonio. 

Debate interests: Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Moral philosophy, postmodernism

First Year Out Staff

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Richard Cook 

Richard debated for four years at Strake Jesuit, qualifying for both the TOC and TFA three times. During his senior year, he won St. Marks and UT. He won the top speaker award at both St. Marks and Grapevine, while also winning speaker awards at Greenhill, Glenbrooks, and Apple Valley. Throughout his debate career, he has earned bids at Apple Valley, St. Marks, Greenhill, Emory, Valley, UT, and Grapevine. Outside of debate, he enjoys playing tennis and chess. 

Debate Interests: Kant, Theory/Topicality, Agamben

The NSD Texas Institute takes place July 16-29 and is located at the University of Texas, San Antonio. Easily accessible from the San Antonio Airport (SAT), the University of Texas, San Antonio provides a central location for students all over Texas and beyond to come together to work in an inclusive environment designed to help them succeed on the Texas circuit. 

Students will be staying in Alvarez Hall, located right in the heart of campus. The dorm rooms are air-conditioned. Students should bring linens for an extra long twin bed. There is a front desk attendant on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

NSD provides students with Lunch and Dinner services in the Roadrunner Cafe, "Real Food on Campus" university dining. Students will be able to get snack and sundries throughout the day in the dorm at the many active campus markets, located in the dorms, libraries and classroom buildings. Breakfast food is not provided by NSD. Students and staff should bring granola bars, pop tarts, cereal, fruit and 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 Institute Directors, Chris Castillo and Jenn Miller-Melin. 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 Texas, San Antonio Police Department as well as the 24-hour dorm staff in Alvarez Hall that are always available to NSD and its students.

Computer access and internet are available. We strongly encourage students to bring their own laptops. UTSA computers are also available for use in the computer clusters in the dorm and throughout the library. Printing costs $.015 a page and is at staff and student 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 computer systems on campus. 

There will be Free Day midway through camp. There are no classes until after dinner. Staff will provide students with the options of attending supervised outings to museums, movies, or local San Antonio attractions. Students can also choose to stay close to campus and take advantage of the campus Recreation and Wellness Center. 


The fees for NSD Texas 2017 are listed below. NSD is currently accepting applications and will stop when full. Regular applications are due May 30th and financial aid applications are due May 15th. 

NSD Texas (7/16 – 7/29): $2695

How to Apply: Parent and student read 1—9 below before you begin.

1.     Read the NSD rules.


2.     Fill out the application here.

NSD Texas Application

If you intend on applying for financial aid and/or a segment of a camp session, click here.


3.     Copy the front and back of your medical insurance card and your immunization record on one piece of paper.

4.     Send your your medical insurance and immunization page to:
3201 South St. #112
Lincoln, NE 68502

5.     Students will be notified of their acceptance/rejection within approximately three weeks after a complete application and payment are received. No student is accepted until their payment has cleared

6.    Students should not make travel plans until they have been notified of their acceptance.

7.     NSD charges a $150 service fee if your student chooses to fly as an unaccompanied minor. Parents should plan to accompany students who cannot travel alone or arrange travel with another student.

8.     In April, students will receive an email with travel action items so that they can report their travel plans in accordance with directions given there. Submit travel plans as directed by June 1, or sooner.

9.     Acceptance to NSD will be revoked for any student who does not follow the travel directions.