The Harris-Ornstein 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 Harris Ornstein Washington Summer Debate Institute better than other summer camps, and the place you should spend part of your summer? 

  • Unbeatable Instructors

    • We prioritize debate expertise AND actual teaching experience, and hire lots of alumni / staff from other urban debate leagues. 

    • Previous faculty members have won or coached award winners at every major high school and college competition, including the NDT, CEDA, Baker Cup, TOC, UDNC, NSDA, NCFL, UDL MS Nationals, and many more. ​

  • Small Faculty-Student Ratios

    • All labs have a faculty-student ratio of 6-1 or less, we don't use large lectures where folks talk at you -- we prefer direct engagement and active learning. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 
  • D.C. Advantage

    • Washington DC is the global center of public policy. With 9 large universities, innumerable think tanks and the federal government, we have thought leaders on our doorstep. In past years, guest speakers have included: 

      • Members of Congress and the DC Council

      • Senior scholars from top think-tanks

      • Congressional Staffers,  Lobbyists,  Consultants, Journalists, and staff from government agencies. 

      • Lawyers, Assistant Attorneys General, and Judges from the legal community

      • Activists and Human Rights Organizations

      • Representatives of Fortune 500 Companies

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

"You guys helped me learn so much in varsity and clarified everything and were all in all great lab leaders. Can't wait to see you guys in the future thx for everything!!! 


Couldn't have said it better. I'm gonna miss this lab and our lab leaders, y'all were great....thank you guys for everything that i have learned"

Stephanie and Tremayne, Bowie High School

  • 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 Harris Ornstein Summer Debate Institute.