When my family and I decided to attend camp during the summer, the first choice we needed to make was going to an in-person camp or an online one. Schedule permitting, we decided on choosing an in-person one. Sitting at a computer for upwards of two weeks for around 8 hours a day can certainly be tedious. With in-person camps, like NSD, you get the entire summer camp experience. Free time to play games, meet new friends, and destress are just a few things that an in-person experience offers. If you can, from my days instructing and attending - in-person options are the way to go.
After this, the second most important thing to consider is safety and location. If you are going to be at a sleepaway camp, making sure that you are comfortable with the campus itself is of utmost importance. For example, NSD has been running its camp in Bryn Mawr, a small university in a quiet suburb of Philadelphia. Areas like these combine comfort, safety, and convenience so you aren’t spending 30 minutes between labs and mentor groups trekking your way around campus. You want your camp experience to be full of debate drills, not cardio workouts.
With these factors decided, there's only a handful of camps that come close to checking these boxes. So the way we “broke the clash” (debate pun) is by talent and reputation. These usually go hand in hand: camps that have a long track-record of continued in-camp safety and productivity, along with in-season success usually attract the best staff. My decision calculus was simple: I wanted to learn from the best of the best. A great staffer list is crucial to the quality of your camp experience. Lab leaders and mentors who have competed at every level and debate style will give you the most insight to improve your individual skills. This was the primary reason why I chose Delta and later NSD: Talent. In my eyes, they had the best mix of first year out debaters who were in tune with the current debate environment, while also balancing that out with experienced graduates who were the cream of the crop when they competed.
When making your camp decisions, you’ll inevitably come down to the same few in person camps. Looking into the upcoming staff for the session you’ll be attending and the tangible successes from past attendees is a surefire way to maximize the value you get out of debate camp in the summer.