Residential two-week summer debate camp for middle and high school students focused on Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate.
June 25 - July 8
LD Debate Focused
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Director Jenn Melin has led championship school debate programs for almost 20 years, and oversee a diverse faculty of elite faculty.
NSD Philadelphia's LD curriculum is a great starting place for students to begin the journey into the upper echelons of debate.
Bryn Mawr College is gorgeous, self-contained, and located in a quiet suburb of Philadelphia, perfect for students new to college settings.
We pride ourselves on providing personalized attention and interactive education for each NSD camper and ensure a 4:1 student to teacher ratio.
If I could choose any camp to go to to feel prepared for a new year of debate it would be NSD - it provided the perfect balance of education and friendliness.
Lilly Broussard | NSD Philadelphia LD Camp Alumni
Northland Christian School
NSD was responsible for a large part of my growth in competitive success in debate. To potential families looking to attend NSD, know that there exists faculty who care just as much about the well being of the kids attending as they do their educational growth.
Taj Robinson| NSD Philadelphia LD Camp Alumni
1st Place, Harvard and Yale College (1st out of 400+ Competitors)
NSD Philadelphia fosters a close-knit, driven, and fun environment for students to learn, hosted at a renowned liberal arts college.
Located in a safe and quiet Philadelphia suburb, Bryn Mawr College campus is beautiful, self-contained, and perfect for students who are attending camp at a college or university for the first time.
At the midpoint of camp, students have a “free day.” Under camp supervision, students are able to explore campus, participate in camp organized games, attend supervised outings to local attractions, or spend the day with family if expressly authorized by a parent guardian.
Our Philadelphia LD camp is designed to help students leave camp with a strong foundation in the debate skills that will enable them to excel at the regional and national level.
NSD Executive Director
Swarthmore | U. Chicago
Philadelphia LD Director
Students are grouped into labs based on experience level, which we assess by gathering information prior to camp, and these groups form the heart of the NSD experience. All NSD labs maintain a 1:4 instructors to student ratio, to enable an active, small group collaborative environment. NSD treats all students as equally important by assuring individualized attention to each and appointing veteran national circuit instructors to work in every lab. Each lab is led by both senior and junior faculty members. Labs focus on developing and leading students through a robust lifecycle of skill development that emphasizes repetition, implementation and skill mastery.
Rather than teach our core curriculum through large group lectures, we supplement daily lab meetings with additional instruction from specialist faculty who rotate in to teach in lab. Rotations consist of three 2-hour blocks of time (one a day for three days) during which labs receive instruction on specialized topics by two instructors who are experts in those topic areas. Rotations capture the benefits of large group 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).
Each student is assigned a mentor group, with one faculty mentor and a total of four students. Mentor groups meet almost daily for the duration of camp, so that mentors can track students’ progress and needs over the course of camp. This creates a terrific environment for students to receive a specific curriculum tailored to each individual student’s needs and interests. In mentor group, students receive customized drills, ask questions they have from other parts of their curricular day, and work on research projects and case construction.
All students attending NSD have practice debates on most days, judged by our expert instructors, who provide extensive round feedback on what students should do to improve. Some of these rounds will occur in the annual NSD Camp Tournament, which provides a competitive opportunity for students to showcase the skills they have learned over camp.
We end most days with office hours, modeled on the office hour system used by many colleges and universities. During office hours, all of our faculty are available to meet with students individually (or in small groups, if they prefer), and students are empowered to select the topics for each of their office hours meetings. This makes office hours an excellent opportunity for students to learn more about topics that interest them, develop new skills, receive assistance on homework, and do structured practice by redoing speeches from rounds they have debated or by having instructors create custom drills calibrated to their needs.
In elective seminars, students learn about niche topics–from debate strategy to philosophy to political theory–from specialist instructors. Students choose from a wide range of elective seminar options, so they can attend the seminars that most interest them.
Students have the opportunity to practice and showcase their new skills in a supportive, educational environment with our end of camp tournament. All students participate in preliminary rounds, and students who perform well also participate in elimination rounds, which also serve as showcase demonstration debates for all students to watch.
Students watch demonstration debates on the camp resolution from our younger faculty, many of whom were recently nationally top ranked debate competitors. Demonstration rounds are moderated by senior faculty, who break down the round with students in-between speeches, answer student questions, and provide a post-round analysis.
With any camp registration, students receive free access to NSD’s Skill Builder pre-camp curriculum. Skill Builder features stand-alone curriculum modules intended for independent study, built by top faculty. At camp, we want our students focused on the most valuable aspects of our sessions: intensive, interactive instruction that amplifies and deepens students’ existing skill sets and builds new ones, learning deep skills in specialty areas from top faculty, and participating in a supportive learning community with peers. Skill Builder helps students solidify background skills ahead of camp, so students can focus on what matters most while they are at camp.
NSD faculty combines the competitive insights from debating and coaching national championships with the classroom skill of lifetime school teachers. NSD offers students the unique opportunity to receive dedicated personalized feedback to build confidence with key concepts and skills.
10:00am - 12:00pm
12:00pm - 1:30pm
1:30pm - 3:00pm
3:00pm - 5:00pm
5:00pm - 6:00pm
6:00pm - 7:30pm
7:30pm - 8:30pm
8:30pm - 10:00pm
If you are unable to attend camp for the full duration due to conflict in schedule, please contact us about attending camp for a subset of time. We are committed to providing low-income students with access to our camp programs through need-based scholarships. If you are interested in applying for financial aid, please view our scholarships page.