Our Mission

Our pedagogy is student-centered and privileges active learning through experience. It is not our goal to deposit mountains of information in students' minds, but rather to familiarize students with the process of critical thinking, researching, and developing complete, compelling arguments on each new topic. In other words, we want students to leave the camp feeling confident in their ability to research any topic and craft high quality arguments on their own.  We also strive to improve the speaking skills and ability to advocate a position of each and every student, regardless of experience level.  This means that we seek to build foundational skills in creative and critical thinking, academic research, and argument construction more than we wish to teach how to argue about any single issue or philosopher.   We believe that research, speaking, advocacy, and passion for debate are an important balance that emerge through a combination of careful reading and summarizing, crafting of arguments, presentation and delivery of an overall position, refutation, and rhetorical packaging.  We use this philosophy to guide our institute and instruction modules. 

In lab session


Our curriculum unfolds in three stages. First, students will plunge into speaking/debating.  Second, students will generate their own arguments and positions.  Third, debaters will cultivate a sense of clash that allows improvements to take place throughout the season. Before students even arrive at camp they will receive a packet of quality evidence on one of the topics they may encounter next season. In LD and PF, students will spend the first two days constructing affirmative and negative cases in hands-on workshops with our faculty. Within the first week, everyone will debate at least twice, once on the affirmative and once on the negative. Philosophy seminars and debate skills sessions will supplement the practice debates and guided research. In Extemp, students will learn how to craft a speech on a variety of topics, prioritize improvements in persuasive speaking to a broad audience, and enhance the ability to construct a meaningful position in a short period of time.  The process will include topics that students have researched and topics that studentsare not familiar with before drawing that option.  Extempers will do practice speeches on a variety of topics throughout the week.

Team in Hunter 107


This workshop provides policy debaters with the best that institutes have to offer: research skills, theory development, and argument construction. Students will have the opportunity to receive personalized instruction from top-notch faculty in intimate groups and benefit from all the amenities available to students at larger camps. All the amenities will include electives, practice debates, rebuttal re-dos, guided research, a starter set of evidence prepared exclusively for the camp, computer access, copies of camp blocks, recreational events, etc.

Scheduling for the workshop will include research skills, group discussions, mini-debates and practice debates, theory discussions, electives, and a tournament.  Students will select blocks of time based on possible schedules that will be distributed to all of the students prior to the workshop.  We are extremely proud to announce that a number of our national circuit debaters / graduates will be assisting us again this summer.  Our promise is that you will get better each and every day.


In addition to Policy, Lincoln Douglas, Public Forum and Extemp, you can now come to the WNDI workshop and learn Parliamentary debate.

Whitman College has one of the most successful Parli programs in the country, having won national sweepstakes, top speaker awards, and national circuit tournaments regularly over the past ten years.  We will bring that expertise to our Parli institute sessions this summer and we can promise that you will receive some of the best available instruction in the country.

Our faculty will emphasize advocacy, strategy, prep time techniques, and innovative argumentation throughout the workshop, and every student will be in a number of full debates.Our agenda will include everything from how to structure a speech to how to predict the types of resolutions that are likely at a given moment in the news cycle.  You cannot go wrong with this new format and Whitman College is the place to be to improve your Parli skills.  Please contact us with any questions and we hope to see you this summer.