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What can Speech & Debate do for your summer?

Public speaking is the number one fear among U.S. adults. Our society is at record high levels of distrust between groups, with people feeling more and more like civil discourse is declining. We're here to fix that.

Speech and debate teaches vital skills to young people, including public speaking and communication, speech writing, research, and logical argumentation both for and against a diverse array of topics. Some of the skills we teach, like civic engagement, self-advocacy, and mentoring, may be less obvious but are still incredibly important.

But it isn't all work! Speech and debate also forges lifelong bonds between students, and it's tons of fun!


What kinds of classes do you offer?

Below is a full list of the classes we will offer in 2020.

Introduction to Public Speaking & Argumentation (IPSA; entering grades 3-9 as of Fall)
This program is geared towards first-time speech and debaters. Coaches will teach students about the basics of public speaking and argumentation. Students will work on writing original speeches, interpreting the work of others, and delivery skills. The morning will be focused on speech while the afternoons will focus on debate. Culminates in a mini-tournament on Friday.

Introduction to Competitive Speech and Debate (ICSD; entering grades 6-9 as of Fall)
This program is recommended for students hoping to pursue competitive debate in middle school or high school. In the morning, students will focus on general skills for competitive speech, including delivery, body language, original speech writing, blocking interpretive speeches, and spontaneous speaking. In the afternoon, students will develop general skills for competitve debate including as research and evidence compilation, case writing, flowing (note-taking), organization and logical argumentation, cross-examination, and basic strategy. This course will set a foundation for the Advanced Competitive Speech and Debate course (students are encouraged but not required to couple this week with Advanced Competitive Speech and Debate.)

Advanced Competitive Speech and Debate (ACSD; entering grades 6-9 as of Fall)
This program is for students who have finished the first week of the MVLA S&D Camp or for students who have substantial prior experience in competitive speech and debate. Week 2 will take students on a deep dive into one or two competitive events and develop more specific skills. We offer courses in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Parliamentary Debate, Public Forum Debate, Interpretation Speech, Original Prepared Speech, and Spontaneous Speech. We will use NSDA preliminary topic lists for 2020-2021 for Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum. (Students with substantial prior experience do not need to attend Intro to Competitive Speech and Debate.)

Internal Camp (entering grades 9-12 as of Fall)

This program is for students who have already spent one or more years competing with a Youth Forensic League Program or with the high school team. Details TBD

Who can attend?

We take students from any school who will be entering grade 3 all the way up to rising freshmen for the IPSA, ICSD and ACSD programs. Within each curriculum option, students will be further split up based on age and experience level. Our Internal Camp program is reserved for students who are on the MVLA Speech and Debate team.

How do I know which level to sign up for?

Don't worry! Beyond picking a curriculum, you don't need to do anything else! Just tell us your grade and what kind of speech and debate experience you have, and we'll assign you to a group. If, after the first day, it seems like a different group might be a better fit for you, we'll move you. 

Who will be teaching the camp?

IPSA, ICSD, and ACSD programs will be taught by our outstanding high school competitors. They will run Learning Labs, which are smaller subsections of each age and skill group, with an expected student-to-teacher ratio of 8:1 or less. MVLASD's own adult coaches will be on site to keep things running smoothly.

The Internal Camp will be instructed by MVLASD's event coaches and other adult staff.

How much does it cost?

Costs vary by chosen curriculum and when you register, but a week of camp starts at $225 at the beginning of the registration period. We also offer discounts for bundling the two Competitive Speech and Debate programs together.

Where does my money go?

MVLASD is a registered nonprofit with the state of California. All funds that do not go directly toward covering the cost of the camp go toward defraying coaching and competition costs. MVLA Speech and Debate supports approximately 160 high school students and 50 middle school students in the Mountain View-Los Altos District and its feeder schools. On average, it costs around $600 in personnel costs and tournament registration fees to support a speech and debate student annually. This “average student” dedicates an amount of work roughly equivalent to a high school course. For a highly competitive student, who might compete three out of the four weekends of each month, costs quickly compound into thousands of dollars each year.

My family cannot afford the cost of entry. How do we qualify for scholarships, and how much is available?

Our standard method of assessing need is to consider whether families qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. If you believe you have a different piece of documentation that demonstrates need, please contact the Head Coach. We can offer cost reductions of up to 95% depending on circumstances.

What does a typical day at camp look like?

Campers receive instruction in their age and skill groups on topics such as writing original speeches, interpreting the work of others as a performance, delivery skills, logic of argumentation, and more. We focus on skills associated with persuasive, original and interpretive speeches in the morning, and skills associated with argumentation and debate in the afternoon. Advanced campers work within the boundaries of competitive speech and debate events available to students attending secondary school in California. Activities with younger students are focused more on skill-building games, while students in advanced groups learn drills used by active competitors.

IPSA, ICSD, and ACSD programs run from 9 am to 4 pm. We have a 30-minute snack and group game break in the morning and the afternoon, as well as a one-hour lunch. These breaks help our campers bond with their lab-mates, as well as give them time to burn off energy. We also offer aftercare until 5 pm.

Our last camp day is a little different--we set aside the whole day to let students experience what tournament is like by running multiple rounds of competition for both speech and debate events. For this day, it is important that students not have to leave campus for a period, and that they arrive on time!

Will you provide food for the campers?

We provide morning and afternoon snacks. You may opt-in to lunch service for an additional $60 per week.

I have been placed on the waitlist. What does that mean?

This may mean we have not yet received your payment. If you believe you have payed, check for a receipt. It may also mean we have reached our current capacity for enrollment, based on space availability and instructors. We will notify you if we are able to secure additional space and/or instructors, or if other enrolled students drop out, we will notify you that you have been moved in to the camp if you have already paid the cost of entry. If you have paid the cost of entry, we will refund the full amount to you if your child is not accepted into the camp. Contact the Head Coach for more information.

We signed up but can no longer attend. How do refunds work?

We offer an 80% refund through June 1. Tuition is locked after that date.

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