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The Intensive

july 13 - august 3

The Intensive is capped at 64 students to ensure that they all get a smaller experience to work with instructors including our Public Forum Curriculum Coordinator, Jeffrey Miller, for the last week.  Jeffrey is a highly successful coach who directs all of the curriculum for every level at the National Debate Forum. Students in his labs go on to be some of the most successful debaters in the country - at the end of 2018, more than half of the top 25 teams in the country had gone through his lab.  He was named Educator of the Year for Georgia in 2018 and is typically one of the most requested instructor at our institutes.  


What makes this experience Intensive?

Practice Debates


Each debater that goes through the Intensive program will be guaranteed FORTY rounds judged by our Summit Debate staff.

We have found that the best way to improve at debate rapidly is to have debates.  Throughout these debates, you will get written and oral feedback from our team of instructors.  We will teach students how to take this feedback and translate it into an action plan for success.

[The extra] week of rigorous work, lectures, and debating is only a small part of what the intensive program offers - the friendships that span hundreds of miles across the nation, staff members whose support extends far past camp, and a newfound passion for debate will stick with me forever.
— Ryan Zhu, sophomore at Edina (MN) - competed the 2018 Intensive Program. Qualified to the 2019 Tournament of Champions


No matter what lab placement the student receives the first two weeks in Boston, EVERY Intensive student will be in a lab led by some of the top lab leaders at our summer institutes.

The Instruction will not only cover debate topics but they will cover other skills that will improve your debate careers.  2018’s topics included:

  • The Science of Winning

  • Creating a Culture of Success

  • Judge Psychology

  • Developing Strategic Vision

  • How to Debate Your Best At Tournaments

  • How to Recognize a Great Debater

  • Momentum and Hard Work = Key to Getting to the Final Round of the TOC

Learning these topics will give you an edge on the rest of your competition - because instead of just learning research and facts, you learn how to make debate work for you.  

During the Intensive, we have longer office hours with the staff of your choosing.  Office hours are always one of the top features of the National Debate Forum.  While at the Intensive, you will have hour long sessions with different staff members to ensure not only individualized attention but also the time to cover any issue that you may be having in debate. 




Unlike other institutes, the Iowa Intensive guarantees debates on the other potential 2018-2019 Public Forum Topic Areas.  During the fourth week of the Intensive, debaters will receive a topic area lecture AND will debate three different resolutions under each topic area!

Most camps will primarily focus on the NSDA September/October resolution, which prepares students for the first part of the season.  However, at the National Debate Forum, we ensure that every lab, even in the two-week experience, includes practice debates on other topic areas to prepare them for year-long success. We’ve seen from using this technique in our top labs that students who have been introduced to--and debated--multiple topics apply the experience and become better debaters on all topics. During our regular two week curriculum, we build in time for every lab to cover other topic areas, but due to the condensed time, we cannot spend as much time exploring potential topics as we’d like.

During the Intensive, we will build in days where we cover and debate potential resolutions under the topic areas.  By spending an entire day on potential topic areas, we diversify what students learn and prepare them for the areas that they will debate in the postseason. 

This year, one of our labs spent several hours analyzing potential resolutions under the Gun Rights topic area.  Due to the shorter time in the two-week curriculum, we were able to only cover one resolution.  In the Intensive, students would learn about and debate both.   This meant that in addition to our students learning specifics about the September/October topic, they also had a debate at camp on a resolution very similar to the one they would go on to debate in November. The Intensive provides students with these experiences and more, ensuring that students leave their time at NDF well-rounded and with a diverse body of knowledge to build upon and apply throughout the coming season and beyond.