Palos Verdes Debate Camp

by Keila Bara

The Debate Intensive (TDI), a residential debate camp for high school and middle school students, will return to Marymount California University in July, according to camp co-director Scott Wheeler who coaches Peninsula High School’s championship debate team.
This is Wheeler’s second year directing the camp, which was started six years ago by his former students. The camp attracts a national following. Each year debaters across the country compete to collect the largest number of “bids” to the Tournament of Champions. Four of the past five winners attended TDI.
In addition to Wheeler, the camp is directed by David Dosch who is the director of debate at Immaculate Heart High School. Aleisha Readye, director of debate at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, is the director of student life.
The faculty consists of coaches and collegiate debaters from the Harker School, the Westminster School, USC, Dartmouth, and Harvard.
Last year Marymount was chosen to host the smaller, two-week session in August, but ended up hosting the full camp once California state university facilities were closed due to COVID-19. “The fact that students had their own townhouses instead of being crammed into dormitory hallways allowed us to accommodate health protocols that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,” said Wheeler. “But now that we’ve experienced how nice the campus is I don’t see ourselves ever going back to typical dorms. And it’s especially convenient for families on the Hll who like to see their kids close to home even when staying overnight.”
Last year’s camp was attended by about 100 students between the two camp sessions, but nearly half of the students participated remotely.
“We got to experience ‘hybrid learning’ early,” said Wheeler. This year, though, it’s been a different story. “Most campers are choosing to reside on campus,” said Wheeler. “They want to return to in-person learning. We’ve also been competing remotely at tournaments all year so for many it will be the first reunion with debate friends from outside their own school.”
The camp schedule is organized around “intensives” — two-day sessions that focus on particular areas of debate. All students go through the camp intensives but then are arranged in labs that vary according to skill level. The students also have practice debates and speaking drills each day, with elective seminars and mentor sessions with camp faculty.
Families who are interested can email for more information or visit the camp website
— email reports

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