My philosophy with debate camps is that if you can, you should. In any capacity, two weeks of intensive learning and practice will boost your debate skills like no other opportunity. With that being said, camp options come down to two possible avenues: Online and In-Person (Residential).
Online debate camp is the best option for students who can’t attend the in-person session, but have the schedule flexibility to attend classes throughout the week at home. With online camps, you’ll be learning about the same topic with a similar curriculum and have lots of time to practice and debate with your online peers alike. The largest difference between this avenue and the residential option is the face to face interactions you would otherwise have at camp. Online camps strive to accommodate schedule flexibility while still maintaining high quality curriculum, meaning that your sessions may include more asynchronous components for you to complete compared to the live alternative. Of course, your async work and practice will be reviewed in forums where you can get help from an instructor, but by definition, your opportunities to do that will look different compared to a peer who’s attending in person. In addition, online camps tend to be smaller, with less students and staffers. This creates a slightly different dynamic than the traditional 150+ Student debate camps, a dynamic that some students prefer in a more close-knit and condensed setting. Simply put, online camp will be a deviation from the in-person option in terms of your experience, but your curriculum will be nearly identical - with the exception of less rigorous practice schedules and face-to-face instructor interaction.
In the event that you have the ability to attend an in-person camp, this is the way to go. Taking a step away from the debate curriculum comparison, residential options provide students an experience of college living, giving them a great foundation as they transition into college in the next year, or two, or even three. Residential debate camp is truly an experience, in addition to an incredible learning and improvement opportunity for the next debate season. On the same note of skill development, residential camp’s unique climate and culture - where students are surrounded by peers and mentors of similar passion and drive - propels students’ abilities. Unfettered access to top-tier instructors and daily in-round practice gives students the ability to learn skills in only a couple weeks that would otherwise take months or even years of individual practice to successfully master. Attending in-person simply gives students 24/7 access to high-quality debate resources in the form of world-class instructors, lectures, skill drills, and camp-wide office hours.
Debate camp, in any capacity - online or in-person - is a vital stepping stone in a debater’s development trajectory.