The Social Aspects of Online Camp – David Kilpatrick

by admin.

Each year, the most challenging aspect of improving debate success for the following season is maintaining a strong summer routine. There are a million things to do during the summer, people are exhausted from schoolwork, and the quarantine situation has many feeling especially down. Typically, summer camps provide much of the structure for bridging the long gap between end of season championships and season openers, but given quarantine, even more self-motivation will be needed than normal. 

A few things might seem obvious, almost obligatory – daily speaking drills, researching the topic area with specific arguments in mind, and giving practice speeches. While these crucial activities have become a staple at every debate camp across the nation for a reason, in my experience coaching debate, the two most important qualities of the most successful debaters have been: 1) thinking about debate constantly and 2) learning to get enjoyment out of the activity. One of the most important elements of debate camp has always been the social aspect. Meeting debaters from across the state or even country who share similar goals, having lots of fun getting to know each other, and talking about debate with peers at every moment of the day. 

All of this seems challenging in an online format, but I think we can help facilitate as close to an in-person camp experience as possible. Maintaining some level of structure with regular lectures, intra-lab discussions with lab leaders, and group chats with peers will go a long way to get you into that “thinking about debate all the time” mindset. Technology will help you connect with other debaters across the state and foment novel discussions about the topic, critical thinking skills only achievable through group coordination, and build relationships that will become stronger throughout the year as tournaments begin again that will last a lifetime.