Public Forum Debate Summer Camps: Midwest

This is the second installment of the Beyond Resolved Public Forum Summer Camp Guide. This post I will cover camps in the Midwest (middle of the country).  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 South and East in the coming weeks.

One important note is that the inaccessibility of Public Forum Debate Camps (due to cost) is one of the main reasons I wrote Beyond Resolved. This book is the distillation of all my main lectures and coaching from SNFI and my years at St. Francis HS. I highly encourage you to get a copy, whether you go to debate camp or not, to use as your study guide this summer. This is not a shameless plug (I don’t make all that much from book sales), but more an honest encouragement to work on your debating in whatever way you can. For many of us, (I didn’t attend a PF Summer Camp in high school), a summer camp is out of our budget range. A book, however, is not. Check it out here for yourself.


Gustavus Public Forum Debate Institute

“The aim of the Gustavus Summer Public Forum Debate Institute is to teach students entering grades 9–12 in the fall of 2014 how to construct logical, cogent, compelling arguments and convey them in a manner accessible to a general audience. Daily activities include vocal warm-ups, skills workshops, individual coaching sessions, and Gustavus value sessions. High school coaches from around the Midwest with extensive knowledge in Public Forum debate will critique participants and lead lecture sessions.”

Dates: July 12–18, 2014, Gustavus Adolphus in College St. Peter, MN

Deadline to Apply/Price: 

Registration Deadline Cost
June 1st $500.00 (Group, 4 or more, Early Registration special)
$550.00 (Early Registration Special)
June 15th $600.00

*Minnesota residents can apply for a camp scholarship.

Practice Rounds: n/a

Topics Covered: n/a

Thoughts: This camp is a steal price wise, a great opportunity for those in the region, and staffed by two excellent educators. I don’t know much about the curriculum given the online materials, but if you live in the area of Gustavus I would look into this program. Check in with the camp for details on the PF program’s offering and skill levels targeted.

Contact: Kristofer Kracht, Director of Summer Academic Programs, 507.933.7486 or


Mean Green Workshops, UNT (University of North Texas)

” Our workshop will help you improve their researching and case creation skills to start your rounds off right. We will also develop your crossfire and refutation skills. Our comprehensive approach to debate process and argument construction will enable you to advance round-winning arguments to a broad spectrum of critics. You will also work daily on delivery exercises to improve your public speaking skills in rounds, and which will enhance your overall effectiveness as a communicator.

The MGW senior staff are lifelong high school teachers as well as coaches. They have been honored with awards for teaching excellence. They know the importance of a well-designed program and of carefully-crafted lessons that stress active learning and mastery of skills and concepts. Their distinguished practice as teachers ensures that MGW’s Public Forum Workshop is powerfully effective and engaging for students. ”

Dates: 2 Weeks:  July 6 – July 19, 2014, 1 Week: July 6 – July 12, 2014

Deadline to Apply: final payments due June 1, so I would guess at least 2-3 weeks prior

Price: 2 weeks: $1750, 1 Week:  $950, High School commuters have a discount of $100 per week

Practice Rounds: n/a

Topics Covered: n/a

Thoughts: I like the “daily delivery” practice noted in the description – it’s always great to be speaking each day. Given the lack of schedule/overall curriculum it’s hard to say what the program offers comparative to others in the region. I would contact the Workshop and ask questions about the skills and topics covered. The Workshop boasts success in Policy and LD – ask about their PF record. As the fourth year in the PF program this should be up and running smoothly.

Contact: Institute Director (Jason Sykes):, 940-268-6067*Email is the preferred method of contact until summer begins.


Comet Debate Institute, UT Dallas

“Students will improve skills in advocacy, argument design, cross-fire and refutation skills. Our novice Public Forum section is perfect for students that want to improve public speaking and advocacy skills while learning the basic form of PF style argumentation.”

Dates: One-Week Session July 13-19, Two-Week Session July 13-26

Deadline to Apply: July 5, 2014


Flexible Pricing Options – All sessions include all evidence and CDI T-shirt and meal plan.

  • One-week commuter session: $500
  • One-week overnight residential session: $700
  • Two-week commuter session: $1,000
  • Two-week overnight residential session: $1,300

Practice Rounds/Topics Covered: The information provided online sounds like the Policy program’s offerings. Given this structure, you’re guaranteed a lot of practice rounds, an in camp tournament, and topic based lectures.

Thoughts: PF is a new offering this year at Comet, and it usually takes some time to build a summer program. Keep you eyes out for the PF faculty and if they have taught at other camps. Ask some PF specific questions of the camp before committing. Check in with the camp for details on the PF program’s offering and skill levels targeted. Again, a good option for the region and a competitor with the Mean Green Workshops.

Contact: E-mail the Comet Debate Institute at


UTNIF, University of Texas at Austin

“We are very happy to offer an outstanding program for debaters in Public Forum in 2014.

The first session (June 26-July 3), designed for students at the Novice to Intermediate level will introduce students to the foundations of argument construction, presentation and speaking, tournament preparation, and in round strategy.

The second session (July 5-July 12), designed for students experienced in PF competition and ready to advance to the next level, will finely hone debating skills and work with the unique structure of the PF activity to develop strategic approaches to contest round victory. Students looking for a more rigorous experience are welcome to attend both workshops.”

Dates: Public Forum Novice Session June 26 – July 3, Public Forum Experienced Session July 5 – July 12

Deadline to Apply: Price increase after May 1, 2014

Price: Public Forum Novice Session $1050Public Forum Experienced Session $1050, *FOR APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED AFTER MAY 1, THE PRICE WILL INCREASE DUE TO A $100 ‘LATE APPLICATION’ FEE.

Practice Rounds: Yes, not quantified on website

Topics Covered:

“All students will participate in experience appropriate discussions and background seminars on rotating PF topics. Students will engage in skills development through practice debates, re-do speeches, and stop/start instruction. The goal is to train students to seamlessly incorporate sound argument and persuasion skills into contest round performance. Students will learn to how to incorporate evidence into their speeches without becoming dependent upon it.  All students will receive the individualized criticism, encouragement and instruction they need to come away from the workshop much improved. Participants in UTNIF PF will have the chance to be heard and critiqued by judges and coaches from within the PF field as well as across the forensics spectrum. Students looking for a more challenging experience are welcome to attend both sessions of instruction.

The UTNIF PF faculty and staff are dedicated to making you a better debater. We offer a rigorous and engaging curriculum designed to build and enhance your debating skills. The Public Forum curriculum will focus on five key areas:

1 – Core Expertise: Research, Flowing, and Speaking

2 – Argument Development: Elements to Advanced Techniques

3 – Case Construction: A Thematic Approach

4 – Speech-Specific Best Practices: A Formula for Success

5 –Argument Integration: Using and Refuting Policy and Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Public Forum”

Thoughts: This is the fourth year of the UTNIF camp and their structure covers all of the core elements of Public Forum. Splitting up Novice (Beginner) and Advanced is a great move in my opinion, which will help tailor the experience to what you need. Structure and staff look good – I would look into special topics like Framework and Impact Calculus to see if they are covered. A competitor with Mean Green for Texas and the surrounding area.



Simpson College Public Forum Camp

“To help you hone your skills, Simpson College is proud to offer Public Forum Debate Camp, to be held from July 6 through July 11 on the Indianola campus.The camp is open to students who will be in grades 9-12 in the fall of 2014. We cater to both experienced debaters, as well as first-timers with no experience.

The camp will include five days of direct instruction, practice rounds and a camp tournament. Students and coaches will be taught by some of the top debate instructors in the country. Small lab groups will be capped at eight students per instructor, assuring that each student receives plenty of one-on-one help.”

Dates: July 6-11, 2014 in Indianola, Iowa

Deadline to Apply: June 1, 2014

Price: Commuters $395,  Residing on campus $495

Practice Rounds/Topics Covered: not described

Thoughts: Appears to be a relatively new debate camp. A great price and connected with a college debate team, which promises good teaching and coaching. Get more details about the camp’s content from Simpson – perhaps they have yet to post the details. Check in with the camp for details on the PF program’s offering and skill levels targeted.  Seems like a good option for those in the Iowa area in proximity and price.

Contact: Department of Communication and Media Studies, commedia@simpson.edu515-961-1652


 Missouri State Debate Institute

Some of our camps are designed with a basic session, followed by an advanced session (called a “sprint,” with more competition debates). Students can select the one appropriate to their experience level, or enroll in both for a progression through the week. This unique structure keeps the camp affordable while also providing the chance for a comprehensive experience.

Each of the mini-camps has a very low number to make, and you can select whichever camps fit your schedule. There were LOTS of students in most of the minicamps last summer, and we anticipate more students in the coming summer. Registration deposit is $100, which covers any number of event camps that you sign up for. Students who sign up for the first 2 week session (or 3 weeks) can add event camps without paying a 2nd registration fee. The registration fee is NOT in addition to camp fees – it is just a partial pre-payment of the fee. Remaining camp fees, if any, are collected at the beginning of each camp. In the event that any individual camp does not “make,” the registration fee will either be applied to other camps you select or will be refunded.

Each event camp runs 9am-5pm, with a lunch break. Lunch isn’t included in the price, but students have many on-campus options in the Student Union or dorm cafeteria.

Dates:  July 14-16 (Basic),  July 17-19 (Sprint)

Deadline to Apply: June 6, 2014

Price: $150 for each session, $300 for both Basic and Sprint; Event camp fees are tuition-only. Students can make dorm arrangements at $30/night and eat in the cafeteria or student union on a pay-per-meal basis. Event camps subject to cancellation or consolidated if enrollment is low.

Practice Rounds: No specific information is listed for the Public Forum program, but the emphasis on practice rounds in the established Policy program bodes well for PF.

Topics Covered: No details available for PF

Thoughts: There is an established Policy program, but it is hard to gauge what the PF program will offer. I’d keep an eye out for updates or ask the Director. As of now, this looks like a good introductory program for first year or novice level debaters. Those looking for a more challenging, advanced debater experience may want to consider other camps in the region. Missouri is definitely one of the most affordable debating camps out there for PF in the Midwest.

Contact: Director’s Office: (417) 836-7636, (417) 836-7636, Asst Director’s Office: (417) 836-6564, (417) 836-6564; Director’s E-Mail: EricMorris@MissouriState.eduAsst Director’s Email:

Nebraska Debate Institute at Millard North High School — Omaha, NE

“PF: a laundry list of qualifiers to NFL Nationals; multiple top-20 teams at NFL Nationals; state champions in both Iowa and Nebraska; many National Tournament of Champions qualifiers and teams that clear to elimination rounds in regional and national tournaments.

Professional Staff: Our staff is one of the most experienced and accomplished staffs in the country. Our staff members have led their own teams to great accomplishments, including but not limited to national champions, state champions, TOC qualifiers, NFL quarter-finalists, and NFL semi-finalists.

You’ll Receive: At NDI, you’ll get what you come for: an outstanding opportunity to grow and develop debate skills with in-depth lectures and labs led by some of the best and brightest in the region and the country. Coming to NDI means you will improve. Coming to NDI means you have made a great investment in your debate career, a great investment in your future.

Student-to-Staff Ratios: We have always hired plenty of staff for all debate events and keep the overall student/staff ratio at under 4/1. Students get individualized instruction at NDI.”

Dates: July 25 – August 2 (newly expanded to 9 days)

Deadline to Apply: n/a

Price:  PF program $550, Housing is an additional $200 (NDI is unique in that campers housed by us are housed by parents of Omaha debaters attending the camp – more info on site)

Practice Rounds: A camp tournament is listed on the schedule; unclear what additional rounds would be offered.

Topics Covered: n/a

Thoughts: This camp is has a bit more experience under its belt compared to other new Midwestern PF camps, but the staff credentials and inexpensive program cost make it a very appealing option for Nebraska and the surrounding area. Check in with the camp for details on the PF program’s offering and skill levels targeted.

Contact: Fred Robertson402.709.9217, E-mail:


Cheers! Look for the next segment of the Beyond Resolved Public Forum Summer Camp Guide next week.


One thought on “Public Forum Debate Summer Camps: Midwest

  1. 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?

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