The Washington Summer Debate Institute Advantage

WUDL Board Chair Christine Mahoney speaks at the awards ceremony in 2015. 32 Students attended the 1st Summer Debate Institute.

Program Coordinator Dara Davis distributes awards at the awards ceremony in 2019. Almost 200 students attended this summer. 

What makes the Matthew H Ornstein Washington Summer Debate Institute better than other summer camps, and the place you should spend part of your summer? 

  • Unbeatable Instructors

    • We prioritize two things during our nationwide search for the best staff:

      • Debate expertise

      • Actual teaching experience

    • We often hire alumni and staff from other urban debate leagues. More than half our staff have actually worked as a teacher as well as a debate coach.

    • Previous faculty members include:

      • CEDA National Champions,

      • NDT qualifiers,

      • Baker Cup winner,

      • Baker Cup winning coach,

      • Coach, 2nd and 3rd Place, Middle School Nationals (2019)

      • Coach, Urban Debater of the Year (2019) 

    • Click here to learn more.

  • Small Faculty-Student Ratios

    • No large lecture halls where you can't see, hear, or engage with the speaker. We keep the Faculty-Student ratio as low as possible. All labs have a faculty-student ratio of 6-1 or less, and all of our guest speakers come to your lab and answered your questions. 

  • Hands-on Approach

    • This is debate camp, so we try to get you up and debating as much as possible. Speech re-dos, cross-examination practice, partial and full practice rounds, we do them all, every day of camp, at all levels. 

In Their Own Words: ​


"​I’m so glad (my daughter) was able to experience debate camp this summer. She has learned so much and I have learned so much about the topic. Even more important, I learned why this program has so much meaning and why it’s so important. It’s not just academic. It’s social and emotional and has built a beautiful community." 

--Inspired Teaching Parent

"Not coming from the debate world, I had no idea how transformative this experience would be. (My daughter) came home every day so energized and excited about what she learned, and then spent a couple of hours preparing for the next day. She loved the camaraderie and the friendships she made." 

-- Oyster Adams Parent

"My students had a very rewarding experience connecting with other teams, learning the debate strategies and content, and developing personal confidence and self-esteem. The counselors were awesome in their capacities for patience towards the students and knowledge of their task."

--Adilah Wutoh-Baylor, Debate Coach, Dora Kennedy Middle School

  • D.C. Advantage

    • No city in the world is more at the center of public policy and ideas than Washington D.C. With 9 large universities, all of the nation's think tanks, and the federal government, we bring in the thought leaders that literally make policy on each year's topic for you to speak with and ask questions. We are committed to bringing thought leaders and practitioners to speak to our students. In past years, this has included:

      • Assistant US Secretary of Education Kim Ford

      • Scholars from leading think-tanks, including AEI, the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress (CAP), and the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), Stimson Center, Forum on the Arms Trade, Truman Center, the CATO Institute, and the Heritage Foundation

      • Congressional Staffers, Lobbyists, and Consultants 

      • Investigative Journalists and Attorneys

      • Human Rights and Advocacy Organizations

      • Practitioners from different government agencies, included: US Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Justice, 

      • Fortune 100 Companies

  • Unbeatable Fun and Community

    • Our students speak for themselves. They haven't been able to get enough of our summer program. Debate camp gives them a unique space where it is cool to be smart and to meet other driven students who share your passion for the world around us. The large waiting lists we've had for camp over the past three years is a strong testament to how much students have enjoyed themselves. 

  • Competitive Advantage

    • Attending the summer institute will give you a leg up against the competition. Students who go to the summer institute win more trophies and are much more likely to be ready to compete at travel tournaments. Looking to move up to the next division, qualify to nationals, or compete on the regional level? Camp will give you a head start, and make the transition easy.​

  • WUDL Travel Team:

    • Students interested in attending the first travel tournament of the season, Georgetown Day, are expected to attend the summer institute in one of the most advanced labs. ​

  • Still Not Convince? 

    • Click here to read the letters from Secretary of State Clinton and former President Obama regarding the Ornstein Summer Debate Institute. 

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