Going into the summer of my first year of debating, I knew that I 100% wanted to attend camp, but I didn’t know where to look first. As a newer debater, camp sounds like this public forum mecca that boosts your skills and is a blast along the way, but the most important thing when starting your journey is selecting the best one and knowing where to look. If I went back in time and educated my younger self about how to make the correct decision 4 years ago, I would tell myself this: Consistency is key.
New camps pop up every year, especially with the era of online debate, camps that haven’t operated a single session before try to entice newer debates into joining their ranks. Whether it's with a flashy few staff hires or a seemingly “revolutionary” curriculum focus, it’s incredibly crucial to sift through the rubble and make the correct decision. That’s why the most surefire way to select your camp is on its track record. Camps that consistently have churned out champions, bid leaders, and influential members of the debate space are doing something that the others aren’t. Sure, a camp might have one really good team that attends and would do well either way, but a camp that consistently produces national-level talent year after year is the place you want to focus your efforts. These are the camps that have been running sessions over the course of years and seasons and have been able to adapt to changes in the debate meta, topic environment, and the ever changing culture that Public Forum brings.
Now that you know how to pick out the best camps that you could intend, the last step is doing the research. If you’re reading this, you did your research pretty well! Anyways, There’s tons of camp options, but you’ll inevitably widdle it down to a few long-running staple institutions. When deciding between these, it's best that you look into the unique differences between each camp’s approach and curriculum. The best way to approach this comparison is highlighted in What factors did you consider when choosing a camp?.