Our summer 2017 schedule is now available and registration is open!
2-Week Core Lincoln Douglas Program
The Stanford National Forensic Institute offers national caliber summer debate programs for students of any level of experience. The Two Week Lincoln-Douglas program is open to all students and is a comprehensive preparation for the upcoming year of competitive debate. Each lab is carefully constructed to maximize student’s ability to accelerate their skills in a highly educational environment. A strong student to staff ratio (8:1) and a minimum of 10 expertly critiqued practice rounds are a core feature of the two-week camp. The Three Week program adds an additional week to the standard Two Week program. The Third Week focuses on technique and practice rounds, and gives students the chance to fully integrate the skills they have learned during the first two weeks of camp.
SNFI knows that generally speaking, the best instructors are not the youngest instructors. We focus on hiring the most experienced instructors, and the most successful coaches of competitors. Our faculty has coached competitors to outrounds and championships at the most prestigious tournaments around the country including NCFLs, NFLs, and TOC. Our instructors know how to create champions at every level of competition.
Carefully Crafted Curriculum
SNFI’s curriculum carefully balances lab time, practice rounds, mandatory lectures, and electives. All labs are led by our expert faculty with a special eye to balancing the skills of the instructors with the needs of each student. Each student will participate in a minimum of 10 critiqued practice rounds; most participate in more. Our lecture series focuses on providing students with solid foundations in both debate and philosophy. Labs then focus on implementation of those concepts so that students can see how to utilize each lecture. Our elective series allows students the freedom to choose an in-depth investigation of a skill or philosophy of their choosing.
What I love most about LD debate is that it is constantly in flux. Norms always shift. Practices constantly evolve. Argument angles are always new. In that way, debate is a living (and vibrant) activity. This is easily evidenced by watching the various styles that succeed across the country and reading the various defenses of styles and practices in places ranging from online message boards to published Rostrum articles.
That means that as much as SNFI is a great opportunity for students to learn from some of the best debate minds in the country, the styles that they prefer is equally a tremendous opportunity to help further the exchange of ideas. Students from Pennsylvania bring with them ideas that differ from those students from Alabama or Washington or Texas or California. All find a home at SNFI each summer. The result is, in my experience, unique. Where many camps seek to stylistically homogenize students, SNFI works to form labs in a way that not only pairs them with lab leaders that will meet their needs, but also in a way that maximizes each student's exposure to differing views on debate.
In this way SNFI is a tremendous place for students with ambitions that range from winning top level national competitions (which our alumni have done) to a desire to simply be able to better train the novices on their teams or even to start programs. The joy I get from running SNFI is not bragging about the tournaments our alumni have won or the accolades of the coaches that staff the camp. The real reward is the student from Any High School who sends an email after their first tournament to explain the joy they feel from their improved record, confidence, mastery of debate, or ability to improve their teammates.
SNFI is not like other debate camps. That's why I keep coming back! I hope you'll join us this summer in Palo Alto!
2017 2-Week Core Lincoln Douglas Program Staff Members Include:
Check back closer to the start of camp for details on our 2017 staff
We will continue to add additional staff members as enrollment and availability dictate. Details are posted on additional staff members as they are confirmed and as we have complete biographic information available. Staff listing may not be fully up to date or reflect all hires to date.
2016 2-Week Core Lincoln Douglas Program Staff Members Included:
Shawn Matson is the incoming Director of Speech & Debate at Presentation High School in California, holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is a former Jewish community non-profit professional. For six years, he was the head coach at Whitefish Bay HS in Wisconsin and has worked with other teams and students around the country. His students have won state championships and have advanced to late elimination rounds at Glenbrooks, Blake, Stanford, ASU, Harvard, Berkeley, UPenn, Dowling Catholic, NCFL, the TOC, and NSDA nationals.
With student successes in every Speech & Debate event, Shawn has focused on Public Forum, Congress, and Lincoln Douglas for the past 5 years and specializes in research & case position generation, European Union politics, and judge adaptation.
Shawn is a One Diamond coach, a member of the NSDA’s Lincoln Douglas Debate Wording Committee and Southern Wisconsin District Committee, and has served on the Board of Directors for both the Wisconsin Debate Coaches Association as its President, and for the Wisconsin Forensic Coaches Association.
Ben Anderson is a sophomore at Stanford, originally from Liberty, Missouri. In high school, he competed in International Extemporaneous and Lincoln-Douglas debate with the Liberty High speech and debate team. He qualified to nationals three times, finishing in the top 30 of IX his junior year, on top of a third-place finish at State. Ben continues to debate in college with Stanford's Parliamentary Debate team. Though he hasn't figured out his major yet, Ben's interests include literature, politics, philosophy, math, and music. He plays in the Stanford orchestra and is involved in climate activism on campus. Ben is very excited to join SNFI as a Parli and LD instructor.
James debated for 4 years with Kent Denver School in Colorado and graduated in 2013. He is an alumn of the SNFI program. As captain of his team senior year, he taught younger debaters and debated very frequently on both the local and national circuits. James qualified for his state tournament all four years, placing in the top eight two years. He qualified for NFL nationals in LD sophomore, junior, and senior year. He also qualified to NFL nationals in Extemp three times and Senate once. James also qualified to the national Tournament of Champions his senior year. In addition, he made it into a number of late out rounds at many national and local tournaments and won the Alta tournament in Utah. Currently, James attends Middlebury College, where he was the Parliamentry Debate Society president as a sophomore, attended nationals as a freshman and sophomore, and was ranked in the top 25 debaters nationally in his first full year at the college. This will be his fourth year teaching at Stanford.
Harshita debated for 3 years for Flower Mound High School in Dallas, Texas, competing both locally and nationally in LD and Extemp. Harshita qualified to Extemp TOC her sophomore and junior year and went to TFA State all 3 years, clearing her senior year. Harshita had winning records and reached late out-rounds at various TOC tournaments such as Grapevine, UT, Strake Jesuit, Greenhill, UPenn, and Berkeley, was a semi-finalist in the Hockaday Women’s Round Robin, and helped mentor her younger teammates throughout her senior year. Harshita attends the University of Texas at Austin.
Will debated for 4 years with Harvard-Westlake School in California and graduated in 2014. Throughout his debate career Will competed on the national circuit, clearing at Brophy, Golden Desert, Blake (twice), CPS, Berkeley (twice), Loyola, and the Voices Invitational. Will is currently pursuing a BA in Economics and Political Science at the University of Chicago.
Katie Hughes debated for four years for Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. She debated on the local, state, and national circuits, earning bids at Harvard Westlake, Alta, and Golden Desert her senior year. She cleared at all but one of the invitationals she attended her senior year and was in finals of Harvard Westlake. Katie attended the Lexington, Cal Berkeley, and Battle for Los Angeles Round Robins and qualified to State 3 years in a row and Nationals twice. She ended her career as 3rd at Nationals. She currently attends Stanford University and debates with the SDS team.
Russell Michelson got hooked on debate when he joined his high school team. He participated in varsity Lincoln-Douglas and speech events all four years. In college, he developed a love for teaching during his four years at the university's Speaking Center. There, he tutored hundreds of students on effective presentation skills, created and gave workshops, and led a staff of other tutors. He continued his debate career in college, and in his free time, judged debate and public speaking competitions. Also in college, he honed his ability to think on his feet by joining the school's improv troupe and performing stand-up comedy regularly. After graduating, Russell became a senior instructor at Harvard Debate Council for a summer. He has a bachelor of arts degree in communication from the University of Mary Washington.
Edwin Zhang recently graduated from Yale University, where he majored in Applied Mathematics and Ethics, Politics, & Economics, and will be working as a consultant at Redstone Strategy Group. He has been involved in debate since his sophomore year of high school, competing primarily in Lincoln-Douglas debate. As a parliamentary debater in college, he broke at the World championship, was a runner-up at the North American championship, and won the US Universities Debating Championship. In his spare time, he enjoys singing and basketball, interests sparked by his favorite movie, High School Musical, which he first watched on January 21st, 2006. His favorite restaurant is Olive Garden, and he recommends the unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks combo.