Public Forum Curriculum

At the National Debate Forum we take tremendous pride in our Public Forum Debate division.  NDF has a proven track record of success in Public Forum, providing a unique, focused experience that delivers results.   


NDF is a great institute choice because we attract students who want to be nationally competitive in PF.  Our students are a key part of the institute experience.  The top-notch competitors who come to NDF for Public Forum are a testament to our approach — and a benefit to our camp.

How did we become the #CampThatWins?


NDF prioritizes small group learning

At NDF, each student is placed into a small lab group built around skill and experience level. Using this tiered structure, no one is made to feel more or less important than anyone else. Students will work with their lab leaders in group and individual settings to develop the specific skills they need. Every student who attends walks away a better debater.

In addition to small lab groups, lectures are broken into cohorts of no more than 30 students guaranteeing each lecture is specific to students' needs and allows students to interact with the instructor.

NDF prioritizes skill based activities

The students will research, write cases, and develop strategies to debate a potential NSDA Public Forum Debate resolution and compete in a full tournament at the end of the institute.

Students will work on case revisions, participate in several practice debates and refine their skills with the best coaches and former debaters in the country. We aim to help students build the confidence they need to stand toe to toe with the best debaters in the county and to provide students with skills that will extend beyond their debate rounds.


NDF prioritizes your needs

We build our staff around your needs.  By hiring the best first year outs in the country and the best teachers in the country, we have your needs covered from coast-to-coast.  Their experiences will help you debate in every circuit in front of every judge.  

In order to meet all of your needs, we offer every student at least four elective classes where students choose their curriculum.  Students can choose from topics such as team building to understanding research to crash courses on International Relations. Our faculty goes out of its way to make you think harder and deeper about how you debate — and how to win your rounds.

How does the #campThatwins accomplish this?

All of our sessions follow the same schedule, with minor tweaks specific to each campus.  But every schedule starts with the same base.

Sample 2019 Schedules

lab time

In 2018, our labs averaged 48 hours together across the two weeks.  The next two largest institutes posted schedules with around 35 hours.  The additional 13 hours in lab with instructors allows you to develop relationships and build on your skills.

During lab times, activities are planned that advance each day's goals and objectives.    By having the same instructors every day, you can build from lab meeting to lab meeting to reach your goals.

Core Lectures

John Wooden, one of the greatest collegiate basketball coaches of all time, argued that fundamentals were vital to success and helping students rise through the levels of competition.  It is this principle that guides our curriculum. All students learn and investigate fundamental skills throughout the first week -- from casing to rebuttals to crossfire.   No matter what your competitive success is coming into camp, these core lectures are differentiated to make you a better debater at the end of your time at NDF.

practice debates

One of the core parts of any debate camp is the experience students have debating one another.  As the largest public forum camp in the country, it is our goal that we facilitate the most debate rounds possible for students against the best competition in the country.  

By the end of the two week experience, every student is guaranteed to leave with at least 17 full rounds on one of the September/October topics.

office hours

At the very first NDF,  Jenny Cook created office hours to ensure that every student had an opportunity to work with every instructor at NDF.  In our 24th year, we have continued to innovate with office hours, making these 30 minute blocks of time with an instructor the best possible experience.  

Students can choose instructors to work with on whatever they want.  Many camps try to replicate this strategy, but there's only one #CampThatWins.