Summer Institute Observations

Zach Hindin
Junior Statesmen of America Summer Institute at Georgetown University

What was your area of study? What was the greatest strength of that workshop’s program?
Foreign Policy Honors. Highly qualified professors teaching in a truly hands-on environment where you can study say, eco-politics, and then go meet the president of Greenpeace as well as the head of the FBI (the vice-chair who authorized some 300 phone taps into their organization).

What was that workshop’s greatest weakness?
No sleep.

What was the staff like? The rooming arrangements? The costs? Was there financial aid available? If so, did you apply? Receive? How much?
About as good as one can expect. Teachers are extremely committed.

What do students do on the weekends, especially since a holiday weekend often occurs during the programs?
Traipse around DC.

Since many programs (in particular, out-of-state) require flight, does the program arrange to meet students' inbound flights and send them off on outbound flights at the airport?
Yes.

How large were classes? Were there separate labs? If so, how large were they?
I'd say between 20-30.

Amy Levine
LeadAmerica, Presidential Classroom: July 2004, and July 2005 repsectively

What was your area of study? What was the greatest strength of that workshop’s program?
Law and Trial Advocacy; Politics. About 10 days for each.

What was that workshop’s greatest weakness?
LeadAmerica - not a thing!; Presidential Classroom - the groups were too large to make any real connections or friends.

What was the staff like? The rooming arrangements? The costs? Was there financial aid available? If so, did you apply? Receive? How much?
All the staff was very informative and helpful, as well as friendly. Rooming was satisfactory for both. The costs are expensive but there are plenty of scholarship opportunities available, either through the programs or outside scholarships. I believe that I received $500 (in financial aid) from each program.

What do students do on the weekends, especially since a holiday weekend often occurs during the programs?
I had seminars and a few field trips over the weekend. We also got to go to a naval base and watch the fireworks on the 4th of July.

Since many programs (in particular, out-of-state) require flight, does the program arrange to meet students' inbound flights and send them off on outbound flights at the airport?
Yes, both programs do. They provide transportation and friendly staff to meet you.

How large were classes? Were there separate labs? If so, how large were they?
At LeadAmerica, there were about 20-some people. At Presidential Classroom, a caucus had 40 people and a crossfire round had about 25 people.

How successful do you believe the program was in your performances the following year?
They were both extremely helpful to me, but they focused on different areas of law and politics, so it is difficult to compare them to one another.

Samantha Perrone
FFI: the summer of 2004

What was your area of study? What was the greatest strength of that workshop’s program?
Originaly Oratory. The counselers and the one an one time you get to spend with them.

What was that workshop’s greatest weakness?
We worked in groups so sometimes we couldn't accomplish a lot.

What was the staff like? The rooming arrangements? The costs? Was there financial aid available? If so, did you apply? Receive? How much?
The staff was amazing! They care about each of their students sooooo much! I still keep in contact with some of the staff members, they still help me today with questions I have. The cost is pretty high, but I got the Cordis scholarship so that helped out alot. The rooming arrangements is awkward at first because your with 3 people you don't know, but by the end of the two weeks your roommates become kind of like your family. Financial Aid is available but I did not apply.

What do students do on the weekends, especially since a holiday weekend often occurs during the programs?
During the holiday weekend we went to Islands of Adventure so that was fun. But on the other weekends we would meet with our lab groups for an hour or so and then work independently. We normally went out to dinner or just watched movies during down time on the weekends.

How large were classes? Were there separate labs? If so, how large were they?
We had about 30 student in the OO workshop. In our lab groups there were about 8 people with 2 counselors.

How successful do you believe the program was in your performances the following year?
Very - FFI helped me such much! Not only with my event but speech in general. It's a great camp and I'd highly reccomend it to any novice or varsity member.

Diane Siegel
Victory Briefs Institute at UCLA: 2002

What was your area of study? What was the greatest strength of that workshop’s program?
Lincoln Douglas and Extemporaneous Speaking. I thought the greatest strength was that the lab leaders were students fresh out of high school who were really familiar with the current style of debate. The lab leaders were the best debaters in the nation, the current NFL champion was there.

What was that workshop’s greatest weakness?
The greatest weakness was probably that since the lab leaders were students and it was a first year program, everything was a little disorganized.

What was the staff like? The rooming arrangements? The costs? Was there financial aid available? If so, did you apply? Receive? How much?
The staff was great; everyone was really helpful and open to questions even at one in the morning. Rooming arrangements were in the UCLA dorms with two to a room. I have to say that the UCLA food was surprisingly good. I don't really remember the cost, but it was comparable to other two week camps. I didn't apply for financial aid, but I believe it was available.

What do students do on the weekends, especially since a holiday weekend often occurs during the programs?
The weekends were fun especially since we were in LA. Sometimes we would walk down to get smoothies or starbucks during a lab on Friday. One weekend we went to watch Minority Report. Another weekend we had a barbecue, talent show, and went to Universal Studios.

How large were classes? Were there separate labs? If so, how large were they?
There were two leaders for each lab group with around 7 kids in each one. Additionally, there were specific seminars that you could sign up for if you wanted to work on a specific area like philosophy or rebuttals.

How successful do you believe the program was in your performances the following year?
I think that the program was really helpful; it exposed to me to different styles across the nation and I got feedback from the best debaters in the nation.

Ashley Speers
University of Texas: 2003

What was your area of study? What was the greatest strength of that workshop’s program?
Policy Debate. I thought everything was really good, the lab leaders were awesome!

What was that workshop’s greatest weakness?
The greatest weakness was control of the kids when they were in the dorms.

What was the staff like? The rooming arrangements? The costs? Was there financial aid available? If so, did you apply? Receive? How much?
The staff was awesome they had some of the best to be head of the camp; the rooming arrangements were cool because they put people together that were from all over. I think for like 3 weeks it was around $1,200. Yes there was financial aid; I recived $300.

What do students do on the weekends, especially since a holiday weekend often occurs during the programs?
Well, usually on Sundays you're off, so you have free time to go sightseeing and do really whatever you want. I was at camp for the 4th of July and they had a basketball game. Basically we just went off on our own.

How large were classes? Were there separate labs? If so, how large were they?
Maybe like 16 -20 kids. There were separate lab groups depending on your record and how long you were at camp for.

How successful do you believe the program was in your performances the following year?
It helped a lot with the way I debated the next year, and it made me a much better debater.

Kelly-Ann Fasano
Florida Forensic Institute at Nova Southeasten University: 2003

What was your area of study? What was the greatest strength of that workshop’s program?
Lincoln Douglas. The greatest strength of the camp was that since the lab was made up of about 15 people and there were 3 top-notch instructors, we got a lot of one-on-one assistance.

What was that workshop’s greatest weakness?
One weakness that the camp had was not enough practice rounds. Mainly because there were so many lectures which helped a lot.

What was the staff like? The rooming arrangements? The costs? Was there financial aid available? If so, did you apply? Receive? How much?
My lab leaders were amazing. They were very friendly, willing to help just all around great instructors. The room I got in was very lucky. The girls were three extempers who like to have fun but knew when to work. I still keep in contact with them frequently and see them at major tournaments. The cost was very reasonable. Since the camp offered me some financial aid ($200), along with the money I received from the Cordis scholarship, it was very inexpensive.

What do students do on the weekends, especially since a holiday weekend often occurs during the programs?
Since the camp started on a Friday, we only got the first day at the university to kind-of show us around and where to go. That weekend we had lectures at the hotel. The following Saturday there was a trip to Animal-kingdom. Everyone who didn't go could either go home or stay at the hotel. And on Sunday if we wanted to go there was a trip to the beach.

How successful do you believe the program was in your performances the following year?
I think that camp gave me a much better idea of the in and outs of LD and provided me with so much knowlegde. This year I have done so much better. I've been winning tons of rounds and have just been able to put on a better performance.

Paul L. Gaba, Wellington Debate Coach
University of Kentucky National Debate Institute Coaches Lincoln Douglas: 2003
University of Michigan Coaches Policy Debate Institute: 2001

What was the greatest strength of the Kentucky program?
An immense amount of talent in the form of former high school LD students (such as Jason Baldwin and Andrew Vaden) and debate coaches (Katie Hamm) - individuals who had an incredible grasp on the philosophy and philosophers that make up LD. The program was incredibly cohesive and coordinated, with two weeks of student LD practice rounds, intense lectures, readings, research, the works. It was rewarding in ways I cannot fully explain.

Was Kentucky all work and no play?
The institute was definitely set up in a very structured manner, with minimal down time. However, the program had non-debate activities that took place. Every Saturday night was "Mandatory Fun Night," which had things such as a DJ, card games, and other non-stressful activities. There was a large group luncheon the final day of the institute. Ultimate Frisbee was part of the non-debate agenda. On July 4th, we had a barbecue. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience.

What was the greatest strength of the Michigan program?
I had been a coach for about a year, and knew very little about anything other than Congress. Michigan allowed me to learn first-hand how exciting, involved, and encompassing Policy Debate can be. There were a total of five coaches learning from veteran Birmingham (MI) Groves Coach John Lawson, who is an amazing resource. The institute also had an amazing "all-star" lecture group, including Roger Solt and Sherry Hall.

What was the Kentucky workshop’s greatest weakness?
As far as a coaches program, it is still somewhat limited - this was the second summer where coaches were part of the learning process, and in some ways, we helped to define and redefine the coaches program. For example, there were three coaches participating, and while we were all researching and writing our own cases, no prior arrangement had been set up for us to actually debate our cases ... so we improvised and added it to the end of the three-week-long institute. It gave us a deeper appreciation for what our students do as debaters.

What was the Michigan workshop’s greatest weakness?
Only five days long. The program is intense and offers much knowledge, but for novice coaches, much of it was still over the top. Another week would have been great to better digest the information received.

Is there anything you can say to encourage or advise new coaches?
If you're serious about debate, attend summer institutes. You'll learn more than you can possibly imagine, and it will make you a better person in the short and long run.