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9 Best Debate Summer Camps 2024

Debate is one of the best extracurricular activities that children can sign up for. It looks great on a college application, and there are even scholarships for students that excel at it. Plus, there are educational benefits since skills learned from it directly transfer into the classroom. 

Debate camps take your child’s love for discussions and help foster it into something that can set them up for success in their future careers and life. Kids learn how to make a successful, well-articulated argument built on facts from research in a convincing and concise way. 

They also meet like-minded peers with the same drive and eagerness to have their voices heard and develop friendships. Here is our list on the top debate summer camps for kids looking to learn in-person or online. 

Debate camp

#1 – Debate Camp

The Debate Camp programs are a great place for students in grades 5th to 10th to get a traditional summer camp experience while significantly improving their debate skills. They have both day camps and overnight camps.

The main components covered at camp include debate, public speaking and Model United Nations. Each day consists of going over debate topics to cover, practice rounds with helpful feedback, and workshops, with breaks and fun games in between to keep things lively.

All skill levels are welcome, and the camps last anywhere from 4 to 5 days for the day and 7 days for the residential options. They strive to teach more than just debate skills and help kids use their learning in other areas of life to improve critical thinking and advocacy skills.

Their camps are located coast to coast in Canada and throughout the US Northeast and Pacific Northwest. Their website shows a clear listing of Canadian and US locations for each summer. They’re accredited by the American and Canadian Camping Association to ensure your kid is safe and in good hands while attending their camps.

#2 – Harvard Debate Council Summer Workshop

If you’re searching for a debate camp run by expert coaches at one of the most prestigious schools in the country, the Harvard Debate Council’s Summer Workshop is the place! Designed for beginner-level students with little to no policy debate experience, your child can learn debate fundamentals and research procedures, perform practice speeches, learn how to form an argument, and so much more! 

With both in-person and online options, attendees can learn everything from strategy and research to argumentation and preparation during their eight days at summer camp. After each session, students get the opportunity to ask their instructions anything, so nothing gets missed. 

Those staying on the Harvard campus can make use of its libraries and other facilities for any research that needs to be done. The program runs one in-person session between June and July and one session for online near early July. Attendees leave the camp ready to succeed at their next debate tournament. 

#3 – Richmond Debate Institute

Richmond Debate Insitute can improve your children’s debate skills when they attend any of their middle or high school debate camps in Richmond, Virginia. They have a 7-day overnight program for any out-of-state or even in-state students, as well as commuter day camps. 

The staff of PhDs and experienced instructors are here to provide campers with an enriching summer season. The middle school Introduction to Public Forum Debate program provides participants with a complete foundation on debate, covering research to discussion. 

The High School Speech & Debate Programs cover different debate categories like Public Forum and Congressional as well as various speech categories like Interpretation Informative Speaking to Dramatic Interpretation and more. Neither requires any existing experience or skills. 

Both programs end with a tournament that lets them showcase their skills, which parents are welcome to attend. 

#4 – Cornell International Summer Debate Camp

Students can join together for nine days of intense debate and learning at Cornell University. Campers are taught debate fundamentals by expert instructors, including Cornell faculty and other debate coaches. Attendees learn up on existing debate topics utilizing the World Schools Debate format.

At the camp’s conclusion, students participate in the Cornell Debate Camp Tournament, allowing them the chance to put their knowledge into action. Students can expect everything from small group learning, debate sessions with other groups, live lectures, and assignments to help improve their skills.

The program runs from the end of July to August and accepts middle and high school students. You can get a reduced rate if you’re a local resident and want to sign up your child as a day camper. Overnight campers can make use of the college facilities and dorms while there. 

#5 – American Debate League Virtual Speech & Debate

Whether your child is a new or moderate debater, the American Debate League Virtual Speech & Debate Camp can help hone their skills and develop effective techniques. This online debate camp is open to elementary through high school students.

It teaches public speaking fundamentals and argumentation, critical thinking, and communication and leadership skills. Kids learn everything they need to be successful at debate, like structuring arguments, researching, and delivering speeches effectively. 

The camp has six programs to choose from based on grades and different focuses, including public forum debate, speech, public speaking, policy debate, and more. Each day consists of several activities with small breaks in between. The classes are broken up based on different grade levels and concentrations. 

#6 – K-State Debate Summer Camp

Kansas state university offers an excellent debate camp for students wanting to better themselves for competition and get a glimpse of campus life. 

Campers learn essential strategies and arguments to adapt their skillset for nine days. Line by line and Kritik debate are both discussed here. This summer camp is perfect for all experience levels and can help students prepare for their local high school competitions. Kids get separated into groups based on their skill level to receive proper instruction. 

It’s skill-intensive as opposed to research-intensive, allowing campers to learn how to refine their skills and engage in speaking drills and practice speeches. They also receive hands-on, personalized feedback from Kansas State professors and debate coaches, plus learn about a wide range of topics. 

It’s a week-long camp that starts near the end of July and is quite affordable. 

#7 – Rose Debate

Rose Debate is open to all elementary and middle school students, offering fun and excitement for both online and in-person participants. The institute is dedicated to helping improve the public speaking and debate skills in most grade levels. They host after-school programs and summer programs that help kids increase their self-confidence and gain communication and leadership skills.

The online camp is available to students in grades 4th and above, while the in-person curriculum is for grades three and up. The program includes public speaking and debate topics, and all materials are sent to the camper so they can follow along at home. 

There are three in-person camp options for elementary and middle school students held at local schools in Palo Alto, California. Each has different sessions and starting dates so that you can find the best fit for your schedule. 

The staff members are composed of experienced and trained public speakers and ex-debaters that follow their curriculum. 

#8 – Emory University High School Debate Camps

At the Emory University High School Debate Camp, students work closely with the school’s debate coaches and competitive college debaters to develop their skills. Participants can choose between one or two-week sessions that help prepare them for their upcoming school year. Depending on the camper’s goals, they can attend one of the two exciting sessions.

Their 1-Week Fundaments of Debate, Deliberation, and Dialogue program is perfect for those seeking to engage in lively debate while learning practices that can guide them through a multitude of topics. Here children experience in-depth learning in different debate topics, critical thinking activities, and how to form arguments based on their topic. No previous experience is needed, and it’s a great place for kids to connect with others.

Their 2-Week Policy Debate Institute camp is for those with one to two years of policy debate experience, both in middle and high school. It teaches skills like note-taking, tournament preparation, speech organization and delivery, and rules. It’s suited for students looking to participate in competitive policy debates during the school year. 

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