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Dakota Debate Institute returning to SDSU campus July 9-14

Dakota Debate Institute, a weeklong opportunity for high schoolers to learn and build upon forensics fundamentals, is returning to the South Dakota State University campus this summer.

The camp, set for July 9-14 in Brookings, is for students entering ninth through 12th grades who want to work on their speech and debate skills. No experience is required.

Registration deadline is June 19.

The camp is organized by Jackrabbits Forensics, with sponsorship from SDSU’s School of Communication and Journalism, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and private donors who helped with subsidies to keep rates affordable.

Andrea Carlile, Director of Forensics
Andrea Carlile

Andrea Carlile, director of forensics and a lecturer in the School of Communication and Journalism, said this is the second year for the in-person debate camp. It originated a couple years ago when former high school debaters created Dakota Debate Institute and hosted an online camp during the pandemic. SDSU previously served as the site of a longtime annual summer debate camp run by an SDSU alum and other high school coaches, but it was discontinued years ago.

Last year’s in-person camp drew about 40 students, and Carlile hopes to see that many again this summer, with some out-of-staters and return campers already planning to attend.

While no experience is required to attend, some participants might have speech or debate experience from school. Campers will be divided into various tracks—such as Lincoln-Douglas and public forum debate, informative and oratory—to suit their needs. Students will spend the week working on skills leading up to a tournament on the last day. Extra group activities are planned as well.

Staff will include Carlile along with graduate assistants, former high school debaters and coaches.

“Every summer we get this chance to scale back and work on the fundamentals, because we can’t elevate our skills until we have those fundamentals down. … When you do the fundamentals well, you can enhance your game and take it to the next level,” Carlile said. “We have the benefit and privilege to only think about speech and debate for this whole week, and it’s really fun.”

Cost for the residential institute, with students staying in Caldwell Hall, is $650, but scholarships are available to help reduce tuition. The fee includes all meals, housing, camp swag, instruction and activities.

“In line with our land-grant mission, we want to provide this outreach and education as a service and an opportunity for folks to be able to have access to camp,” Carlile said.

For more information and to register for the Dakota Debate Institute, click here.