Debate Community

This is about the community resources and institutions of debate. Many of these can help you along with your debate career. This page is oriented towards debaters who are coming from smaller or independent programs, as that was my personal experience. For people attending larger or more established programs, your coach is probably a better source of information for you to consult.

Debate camps

A debate camp is a program, usually during the summer, where you learn about debate. (Some camps have additional activities, but the focus is usually on debate.) These camps hire professional debate instructors and prominent former debaters to coach people throughout the sessions, usually 1-3 weeks long.


Many camps are organized into groups called labs. Several instructors will be the leaders of the lab, and you'll be placed into a lab of about 8-20 people. This small group will be who you spend a lot of time with, through camp activities and instruction. Your lab leaders will give your lab exercises and run you through exercises and practice debates. The camp itself also has activities and instruction that you'll participate in, sometimes without your lab. For example, most camps have specific lectures called seminars/modules/electives that you sign up for, depending on your interests or weaknesses. Some focus on philosophy or economics, others focus on specific speeches, and others hone different skills.


The most immediate benefit to attending camp is the debate skills you'll hone and improve upon. Assuming you pay attention and come with an open mind (don't try to hold onto your notions of what debate should look like!), you should definitely improve. However, a potentially greater benefit to going to camp is the connections you can make in the debate community. Many of the best debaters are there coaching, and you can meet people at your skill level, and get to know them. Through this, you can make friends that you can share prep with, talk about ideas, or meet up at tournaments, throughout the rest of the debate season. Your lab leaders (and pretty much every instructor there) would probably be happy to answer any questions you have throughout the year.

Making the most out of camp

Be social! I'm a pretty antisocial person, but much of the benefit of camp is the people it puts you in contact with. Stay in touch with your lab, as they can definitely help you out through the main season. Additionally, when in lab or listening to lectures, take notes! I can't stress this enough. After camp, you'll be caught up in schoolwork or extracurriculars, or going to tournaments. Write down as much as possible, so you can review the skills and information that your instructors teach. I'd also recommend recording lectures - I only got one recording from the camp I attended in 2018, and I've listened to it dozens of times.


The most obvious downside is the cost. Most camps cost upwards of $2500, and some are as expensive as $3000. Some camps have scholarship programs, and others have discounts for signing up early, but it's undeniable that camps are quite expensive. That high cost makes camp prohibitive to many members of the community. Most smaller, regional camps are much more affordable. A secondary downside is related to the type of debate you'll learn, and its applicability. Most national-level camps emphasize a more circuit-style of debate, focusing on winning the flow. While of course, this debate can be more fun than lay speaking competitions, it also can come at the detriment of other skills which are more helpful on local circuits. However, there are always options at camp to practice those skills at elective-type classes, and you can ask around to see which instructors were successful at whatever style of debate you want to pursue, to spend extra time with them.

Beyond Resolved workshop

This is an online camp that aims to improve accessibility in the community. It's cheaper than many of the other national camps listed, but is online rather than at a college campus somewhere. The staff are great, and you can participate on your own time. The website for the summer of 2020 is here, but this page may have to be updated later.


These are just the larger national camps; there are many others for different regions or states which may be a better option.






Discord is a chat messaging app, similar to Skype. Discord is organized into servers, where large groups of people with similar interests can talk and discuss ideas. On debate Discord servers, people can discuss topics, try out arguments, chat, or have online practice rounds.

Public forum discord:

General debate discord:

Private coaching

Private coaching is a great way for teams from small schools, without much of a team or without debate coaches, to improve themselves.

What private coaches do

Most interactions with your coach will be online. Coaches are really there to help you improve, so in any case it's up to you to decide the best course of action, and how best you can utilize their skills and instruction. Most of the time, this will happen over Skype/Discord/Messenger/Hangouts calls, which the coach will charge you for (typically per hour). During these calls, you can do drills, talk about case ideas or tournaments, or discuss ideas and in-round strategies. Apart from calls, you can also ask coaches to help you with prep, or come and meet with you at tournaments to directly observe you in-round.

Finding coaching

The easiest way to find coaching is to reach out to former debaters. Most are accessible through Facebook, and you can also meet some in person at camp. Beyond Resolved also offers a coaching database on their website, where you can find people who are looking to be hired. When offering, be polite, but not overly - they're probably within a few years of your age. Be specific about what you'd like them to do, when you're available, and if you'd like to have them travel to tournaments. Coaches are a great way to improve throughout the regular year.


Reddit has several communities for debate.


r/debate is the main debate subreddit. People from all formats (including speech) come to discuss debate, share debate memes, or talk about the circuit. There are announcements that relate to the community (usually monthly topic announcements), as well as megathreads for discussion. You can find people from all over the country there, whether debaters from smaller, traditional local circuits, to high-level circuit debaters who travel across the country. If you've got any questions about debate, asking here will probably get a wide range of great responses.


r/debatetrade is a subreddit for people to trade prep. After doing your own prep, say, writing a pair of cases, you might want to see other peoples' prep, to get a gauge for what they're running. You can make a post, specifying what prep you have and what you're looking for, and a way to contact you, and message other people to trade. r/debatetrade also uses a reputation system, where after trading you fill out a form to verify it, giving you a better reputation in the community. In addition to cases and blocks, people often trade recordings from high-level rounds, briefs, and sometimes money. Trading prep is a good way to see what ways other people argue, or what common contentions there are on a topic.

Other formats

For non-PF formats, there are separate subreddits. That's not to say that there isn't policy or LD discussion on the main sub, but they're less seen than PF (which doesn't have its own sub, and is predominantly seen on r/debate). In these subreddits, you can see discussion of each format's specific topics, and strategies relating to that format.