The Value of Summer Speech and/or Debate Camp

Tis the season… to go to camp? Fa-lala-la-la…. Wait a minute- it’s summer!  Aren’t we all on break? No one is thinking of Speech and Debate now, right? WRONG! As I was sitting in my living room last week, with some Speech and Debate friends,  I heard multiple reasons for NOT going to a Speech and/or Debate Camp…

If you must know, it was a friendly debate… And I think I won. But I didn’t just want to convince them, I wanted them to believe it!

Now , I can tell you, I have taught almost a dozen Speech Camps in the last 5 or 6 years, and each camp is unique! Although I generally follow an outline the things teach at each camp is specific or will be geared to those that attend camp. It is an interactive process. And I am sure my friends teaching camps do it similarly. Meaning if you aren’t there- you might be missing out!

Here are my reasons why there is value in attending a Speech and/or Debate Camp.

1. Motivation- There is nothing like a jolt of energy or inspiration to get you started. You might walk away with a case for Debate or even a road map for your Speech.

2. Inspiration- Like I haven’t said this enough? There is no better place than in a room filled with people- all Speech and Debaters, along with amazing coaches to help you come up with ideas to spark your season.

3. Foundation- Beginning your season at a camp, is the perfect foundation to the long season ahead.

Those are just three reasons to go to camp, but let’s also talk about who should attend camp and possibly what they might get out of it…

1. Novice Students- A perfect place to get everything thrown at you all at once (in a very gentle way) so you can make decisions about your future. What you learn at camp might not just affect you for the on-coming season, it might help you make a plan of attack for what you want to try in the years to come.

2. Advanced Students- Maybe you are stuck in your “Interp. Bubble”, this could be the fresh new perspective to challenge you to try new things. There is nothing like a breath of fresh air to motivate you! And don’t forget, you might be the one in a position to motivate or inspire!

3. Parents- What? Wasn’t this a drop off camp? Yes… But aren’t you the coach too (all parents are)? These camps are made for you too! Get out your notebook, take the day off from cleaning and learn more about Speech and Debate! There is so much to learn about!

Not convinced yet, by my powers of persuasion. Here are the thoughts from some our Lasting Impact! Team…

Joel Erickson says:

Debate does not consist of knowledge attained through intensive study and memorization; rather, it is fundamentally a skill cultivated through diligent and committed practice. No matter how much you read about debate, talk about debate, think about debate, significant improvement only emerges when you simply practice. Because they operate on the principle of you acquiring skill via drilling and practicing the material you learn, debate camps catalyze your communication abilities.

Furthermore, the best way to stimulate your mind is through encountering and engaging alternate perspectives. When I attended my first debate camp as a second-year debater, I initially disagreed with more than half of the material the coaches were teaching! Discussing the concepts with my friends, arguing about them with the coaches themselves (another clear advantage to debate camps being that the instructors encourage you to be argumentative), and–most importantly–experimenting with their advice through drills and practice debates cemented in my mind that their methods and theories about debate were more accurate and beneficial then my bad habits. Even if you finish debate camp still adamantly disagreeing with your coaches, your rationale for adhering to your method has been fortified and you have grown in your knowledge through experiencing the viewpoints of others. Get outside your paradigm, try some new techniques and strategies, and become a better communicator through attending a debate camp this summer.

Ellen Neumann says:

I went to at least three TP Debate Camps during my years in Speech and Debate, and I never even participated in TP!! But I learned a ton! I met and was inspired by amazing instructors and I rubbed elbows with fantastic competitors. I can honestly say I grew from each of those experiences and was able to apply things that I learned, whether it was in my season or not.

I also participated in numerous Speech Camps during my four years, and although the instructor was the same (my mom), each camp was different. But I loved meeting new people, thinking about things in new ways, and being challenged. Speech Camp, for me, really jump started my seasons.

Kristi says:

In summer, most regions offer some sort of workshop, camp, or prep program for speech or debate or both.  These off-season training sessions can be of invaluable help to both seasoned and new competitors alike.  Why is that?

The answer might be obvious for debate. No matter how long you’ve been competing, the resolution is new.  There are new topics to discuss, to weigh, to research.  And let’s face it…debaters LOVE just talking about that stuff!  Admittedly, talking together with others is THE most valuable way to vet ideas early, turn them over and examine them different angles, and shape your own thoughts and wording about them.  Additionally, for the novice, a workshop will address vital skills like handling a cross-examination or managing your prep time.  Skilled debaters can still pick up bits of good advice about verbal strategies, rebuttal techniques that are most effective, or using the 2AR for maximum impact.

Speech camps are also a great way to get your mind thinking about next year.  Depending on the structure of the camp, you might have the opportunity to learn how new events are likely to work and be judged from coaches who’ve seen those events before.  You might get some good tips on writing techniques, or documentation that is more seamless, or things that make IO boards more visually appealing.  This kind of workshop is typically taught by parents or coaches who’ve made study of those events over many years of observing and judging.  They KNOW their stuff.

Interp sessions at speech camp tend to be more experiential, and at the summer workshop level are largely designed to teach the skills of interpretation more than to actually build this year’s competitive speeches.   Most likely this kind of workshop will include tips and techniques for creating characters, developing blocking, and improving vocal distinctions.  A summer workshop allows you to practice these skills and get instruction, then take that knowledge back to the building of your own speeches.  (Much in the way that taking a drawing class allows you to be a better artist when inspiration strikes!)  Again, both novice and veteran speakers can benefit from this kind of practice and teaching.  They help you grow in small ways YOU may not have paused to consider.

The truth is, you should be using your competitive season to push yourself and grow in your skills, not to retread old ground you’ve mastered.  So, get out there to a summer workshop and sharpen yourself in some new capacity!

Here is a link to Lasting Impact! Camps this summer- I hope you will join us!

If you would like to hold a camp or workshop, contact us-