Public Forum Debate Summer Camps: West

This is the second installment of the Beyond Resolved Public Forum Summer Camp Guide. This post I will cover camps on the West Coast. The first post on 3/28/2014 explains my rubric for selecting a summer camp; this post will cover the specific camps. Be on the lookout for a guide to the Midwest, South, and East.

Stanford National Forensics Institute, SNFI

PROGRAM OVERVIEW: The SNFI treats Public Forum as the distinct event it is, and the program has its own dedicated instructional staff as well as a specific division director and unique curriculum developed for Public Forum. The program is divided into three one-week sessions that are organized progressively.”

Dates: Begins July 13th and ends August 9th; different programs during this range

Deadline to Apply: “The date for preferential enrollment is May 25th, which does not guarantee a spot, but we will make our best efforts to accommodate students who apply by this date.  All applicants will be admitted as space permits, even applications submitted after May 25th and into June or later.  Applications received after June 10 may incur a late fee of $50 per week of camp.”

Price: range from $1,150-$3,995 depending on program length; commuters have reduced price; resident price includes room and board; all prices include meals


Practice Rounds: Each week there is an in-camp tournament that will include multiple practice rounds. Practice rounds are also held during lab time that are full rounds and stop/start rounds. The Intensive Practice Round session centers on hosting practice rounds each day of the program. That specific week offers many practice rounds with a variety of judges.

Topics Covered: SNFI is organized by skill level; you should be honest about how much experience you have when choosing a program. The Beginner Week covers all the basics of PF: speeches, argumentation, and delivery. The 2 and 3 week programs will cover these topics but also more advanced topics such as Impact Calculus and Judge Adaptation. SNFI PF also features electives that cover topic specific analysis, philosophy, Policy in PF practices, among other offerings. Each week features a new resolution that will be researched and debated during the camp.

Thoughts: Having worked at SNFI for four years, I find that the program is comprehensive and inclusive. Stanford is a gorgeous place to spend a week or two of your life, but this camp isn’t just about being at Stanford. The teaching staff take it seriously that you improve your skills and make themselves accessible to helping you maximize your experience. I highly recommend SNFI if you are able to afford the camp. Blame Stanford Housing for the pricey accommodations.

Contact: Website generated contact email


Cal National Debate Institute, CNDI

“Great Faculty: The Cal National Speech and Debate Institutes are staffed by some of the best high school and college debate coaches in the country.

Affordable: The CNDI camps are some of the most affordable in the nation – we’re committed to providing access to debaters from all across the country.

Ideal Location: Hosted at the best public university in the country, CNDI students enjoy their summer in the beautiful urban setting of Berkeley.

Dates: June 29 – July 12, 2014 (two weeks).

Deadline to Apply: n/a

Price: Residential Tuition: $2100 (Includes housing and food), Commuter Tuition: $1300 (Does not include housing and food)

Practice Rounds: Full debates, stop/start rounds, student judged rounds, and an end of camp Round Robin – You are guaranteed many practice rounds at CNDI.

Topics Covered: Past Year’s PF Schedule found at the bottom of this page; Speeches, argumentation, topic analysis, general talks such as economics, environmental debates, etc covered.

“What does the daily schedule look like? On most days students will have activities planned from 9am to 9pm with breaks for meals and relaxing. Programming starts after Lunch on Sundays and there are several “fun” days scattered throughout. At the bottom of this page you will find last year’s schedules for Public Forum and Policy Debate. There will be small changes this year, but it will give you a general idea of what the average day looks like.”

Thoughts: The camp is comprehensive in its topics and in practice rounds. A great Bay Area camp.

Contact: Jonah Feldman, Director of Debate and Forensics,


Capitol Debate Public Forum Camp

“Program Overview: The Public Forum Debate Camp, one of our overnight academic camps, instructs students in the essential skills for success in competitive debate. Taught by renowned teachers with sterling track records, this debate institute teaches students the key processes of effective debate such as case construction, composing briefs, research, rebuttals, cross-fire, evidence analysis, and summary and final focus. Debate students leave our academic camp with the knowledge, skills, and practical experience needed to succeed in debate.”

Dates: June 29 – July 11, 2014 at The University of San Diego, San Diego, CA

Deadline to Apply:Prices increased after March 31, but I could not find a deadline to apply.

Price: Overnight Camp (2 Weeks for $2995/ 1 Week for $1695)

Commuter Camp (2 Weeks for $2295/ 1 Week for $1595)

Practice Rounds: Practice rounds with extensive feedback are mentioned in the marketing. I cannot speak to the exact number of rounds included in the program.

Topics Covered: “Critical to success in public forum debate is the ability to effectively argue a wide range of topics. Our highly experienced debate camp faculty will teach campers advanced argumentation skills in the following areas: Case Criteria Development, Delivery, Issue Selection, Summary and Final Focus Writing, Refutation, Case Construction, Brief Writing, Evidence Analysis, Research.”

 Thoughts: Capitol boasts many successful debaters that have moved through their camps in the past, and this camp combines debate with fun activities in the area. The curriculum looks comprehensive and a great addition to Southern California’s summer camps.

Contact:  Information Request


Wyoming Forensics Institute

“The Wyoming Forensics Institute is a summer debate camp open to all high school students throughout the country.  We offer one and two week sessions for Cross-examination/Policy debate and two week sessions for Lincoln-Douglas/Value and one week sessions for Public Forum debate.  For 2013, we are also debuting a special short session for debate novices.  This is the institute’s 13th year of offering affordable debate education to students from the Rocky Mountain region.  Our mission is to provide exceptional, national-caliber instruction to students at the cheapest possible price.”

Dates: July 14-20, 1 week session

Deadline to Apply: n/a

Price:  Full Tuition: $475/ Commuter: $250

Discounts offered:

Wyoming discount: Students from the state of Wyoming will receive a $50 discount off of the total cost to incentivize debate-learning in the state of Wyoming.

Early-bird discount: Successful registration by April 15, 2013 qualifies for a $25 discount off total cost.

Referral discount: For every confirmed referral by another registrant, you qualify for a $25 discount off the total cost.  That means you can save $25 for every friend or teammate you can recruit to attend the camp.

Practice Rounds: unknown

Topics Covered: “This 1 week session will focus on debate fundamentals such as flowing and speaking as well as skills particular to the PF format, such as case construction, research skills for a one-month topic rotation, and debate strategy.  This session is designed for students with at least one year of debate experience.

Thoughts: This camp would be great for residents of Wyoming or the Rocky Mountain  region. A relatively new PF camp, I have not heard much about it’s reputation or offerings. The staff looks like it has a very successful Policy debate background; it may not be as versed in PF as other more established camps. Nonetheless, a cheap and good offering in the region.

Contact:  Camp director, Travis Cram,


Beehive Utah

Dates: One Week Camp: July 6-13, 2014/ Two Week Camp: July 6-20, 2014

Deadline to Apply:

June 1, 2014: Registration and Payment Deadline – All payments and registration forms are due. Unpaid registrants will be dropped on this date. Applications received or reinstated after June 1 will be assessed a $150 late fee. Cancellation and Refund Deadline – No refunds will be given for cancellations after June 1st.

June 15, 2014:Late Registration and Late Payment Deadline – This is the final day to submit paperwork and payment. Applicants with incomplete paperwork or payment will be dropped from enrollment on this day.


Registration Type

(July 6-13)

(July 6-20)

BFI Resident:
Includes tuition, 3 meals per day, and accommodations in the residence halls



BFI Commuter:
Includes tuition only.



Optional Meal Plan for Commuters



*There is also a $50 nonrefundable Application Fee for all participants.

Practice Rounds: “BFI’s camp design emphasizes student-engaged learning by relying on numerous drills, active learning modules, and practice rounds that help students transfer theoretical knowledge into applied practice.”

Topics Covered: A great overview provided here. “Students who participate in the one-week session will focus primarily on fundamentals of forensics and basics in their event. In the second week, students will receive advanced training and additional practice rounds in their event.” BFI Features a Novice and Varsity track, focuses on skills building, specifically research skills and topic knowledge. “Students will be able to take guided research courses courses in politics, public policy, economics, the courts, global issues, as well as focused courses on different regions and nations.” Core Courses include: Elements of Effective Research, Fundamentals of Argument, and Public Forum Lab, as well as electives that include Performance Workshop, Critical PhilosophyModern & Contemporary PhilosophyPolitical ScienceSpecial Topics, and Performance in Debate.

Thoughts: This camp seems to have great topics, structure, and teaching philosophy. There is also a bonus offering of College Credit at the University of Utah for attendees. This looks like a great option for the southwest. 



Bay Area Young Genius

“The Summer Session Debate Camps at our Saratoga Office are for students to explore advanced argumentation and advocacy by examining the styles of debate middle schools and high schools in the bay area participate in: Lincoln Douglas, Congress, Public Forum, and Spontaneous Speech Events.”



Deadline to Apply: n/a

Practice Rounds: “The class will culminate with a mini-debate and speech in-class tournament.”

Topics Covered: Students will learn how to structure and argue different cases as well as learn how to research evidence to support those cases. They will do more exploration of current events as well as framing arguments in a policymaker context… This class allows students to try out different performance opportunities that many middle school and high school speech and debate programs offer.”

Thoughts: This camp is relatively new and the half day format means it will not be as intensive as other Bay Area camps. The Middle School focus, as well as the format that provides an overview of various events, means this camp would be best suited for new debaters, especially those in Middle school. I would say this camp is great for Bay Area locals, but if you are willing to travel look at SNFI and CNDI.

Contact: Web generated contact form



“Our pedagogy is student-centered and privileges active learning through experience. It is not our goal to deposit mountains of information in students’ minds, but rather to familiarize students with the process of critical thinking, researching, and developing complete, compelling arguments on each new topic. In other words, we want students to leave the camp feeling confident in their ability to research any topic and craft high quality arguments on their own.  We also strive to improve the speaking skills and ability to advocate a position of each and every student, regardless of experience level.  This means that we seek to build foundational skills in creative and critical thinking, academic research, and argument construction more than we wish to teach how to argue about any single issue or philosopher.   We believe that research, speaking, advocacy, and passion for debate are an important balance that emerge through a combination of careful reading and summarizing, crafting of arguments, presentation and delivery of an overall position, refutation, and rhetorical packaging.  We use this philosophy to guide our institute and instruction modules.”


Sunday, June 29th, 2014 – Saturday, July 12th                        (Tuition Cost: $1,550)

Two Week LD/PF/Extemp: All experience levels welcome

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 – Saturday, July 5th                          (Tuition Cost: $800)

One week session (A)—Public Forum, All experience levels welcome

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 – Saturday, July 12th                         (Tuition Cost: $800)

One week session (B)—Public Forum, All experience levels welcome

Deadline to Apply: n/a

Practice Rounds: “Within the first week, everyone will debate at least twice, once on the affirmative and once on the negative.”

Topics Covered: “Our curriculum unfolds in three stages. First, students will plunge into speaking/debating.  Second, students will generate their own arguments and positions.  Third, debaters will cultivate a sense of clash that allows improvements to take place throughout the season. Before students even arrive at camp they will receive a packet of quality evidence on one of the topics they may encounter next season. In LD and PF, students will spend the first two days constructing affirmative and negative cases in hands-on workshops with our faculty… Philosophy seminars and debate skills sessions will supplement the practice debates and guided research.”

Thoughts: I like the pedagogy presented as well as the camp’s “three stage” structure. It is unclear what advanced topics are covered, but there is a great foundation being built in the curriculum. Very affordable, I think Whitman is a great option in the Northwest for debaters.

Contact: Email with questions.


Southwest Speech and Debate Institute at Arizona State University, SWSDI

“The Southwest Speech and Debate Institute is held on the campus of Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. This state-of-the-art facility brings together some of the best coaches and former competitors in the state of Arizona and students from around the country for a couple of weeks of awesome instruction, high-energy debate, and quality preparation for the upcoming season.

The thing that sets SWSDI apart is that we’re not-for-profit. We do this because we love teaching, and we love forensics. The camp staff is a collection of dedicated and committed coaches with a broad range of skills and experience. Our small size means that we’re able to hire only top-notch instructors with both proven competitive success and strong teaching ability.”

Dates: July 5 to July 12, one week session

Deadline to Apply: n/a

Price: Public Forum Debate: $770 residential, $660 commuter, with possible scholarship or financial assistance (contact camp)

Practice Rounds: Fully-critiqued practice rounds, Practice tournament at the end of camp

Topics Covered: “Curriculum at SWSDI will feature:

  • Time for research and writing cases and blocks, with plenty of individual attention from coaches
  • Lectures about specific skills and areas of your event, followed up with lab sessions to put those concepts into practice
  • Lab groups – working on skills and doing drills
  • Watching and analyzing demonstration debates
  • Lectures and drills tailored to students particular skill levels

Public Forum Debate: Argumentation theory, Flowing, Research, including “Google Fu”, Crossfire, Speaking skills, Each of the speeches: Rebuttals, Summary, etc., Appealing to the judge, In-round strategy”

Thoughts: This camp is both inexpensive and presents good coverage of topics, especially for the newer debater. It sounds like a more experienced debater looking for improvement may want to attend a camp with more advanced topics.

Contact:  If you’d like to receive more information and updates about SWSDI 2014, please send an email to with the subject line “Add to information list.”



2 thoughts on “Public Forum Debate Summer Camps: West

  1. Full disclosure, I will be working at SNFI this summer. As I stated above, I think SNFI offers a great program, but you should also consider the other options and what fits your needs best.


  2. Pingback: Beyond Resolved: A Public Forum Debate Manual for Debaters and Coaches | Q:I’m a Pufo debater who is looking for a good pufo camp to go to with my partner. Any suggestions?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s