Stanford Invitational Tournament

Individual Events (Competitive Speech)

Start your season with us and experience national championship caliber coaching combined with the highest caliber resources all in the beautiful, safe and relaxing atmosphere of the Stanford University campus. Our challenging curriculum ensures that speakers starting out their forensic careers will learn the basic skills necessary to become competitive immediately while providing them with a firm foundation for growth. Experienced speakers will master advanced techniques to improve their performances and make them more successful at local, state and national competitions.

SNFI offers one, two and three week options to cover the needs of every Individual Events student, from beginner to seasoned speaker!

Policy Debate

The Stanford National Forensic Institute offers a unique national caliber program conducted by the Stanford Debate Society of Stanford University, a registered student organization of the Associated Students of Stanford University.  The SNFI Policy camp offers two, three and four week options.

The SNFI Policy division, across each of the programs, has received extremely positive feedback from past attending students. In particular, over the four years, over 95% of attending students said that they would recommend the program to others, and more than 90% of students have rated the quality and effort their instructor made on their behalf as a 9 or 10 out of 10 on their end of camp evaluation forms.

The Division Director for Policy Debate is Brian Manuel, the Director of Policy Debate at the Stanford Debate Society.

Director's Note

This summer begins my 13th year of competitive debate coaching. A lot has changed since I started in this activity, but I feel that summer debate institutes have been a constant that serve as the backbone for a truly successful debate career. Since taking over as the Director of Policy Debate at Stanford, I've dedicated my time to assembling a curriculum and staff that will hopefully live up to the expectations that coaches and students have for their summer institute experience. I've worked tirelessly to incorporate students' and coaches' feedback from previous summers along with gathering input from my extensive network of colleagues from all over the country. Utilizing this feedback I believe we can and will offer a one-of-a-kind learning experience for high school debaters at the Stanford National Forensic Institute this coming summer.

Our staff has over a century of combined debate institute experience. I've focused my efforts on increasing the ranks of active coaches at the SNFI, and in so doing we’ve been able to recruit a number of full time high school directors to join us, along with some of the best young minds in the debate world. I believe this carefully balanced staff will effectively bridge the gap between the high school and college debate communities. This year’s staff aren't just colleagues, but friends as well. We have a common bond with one another and work together to achieve a common goal, which is to provide the very best summer debate education for your kids.

Our curriculum has always been a trendsetter in the debate community. Our summer institute ranks as one of the oldest in existence and many of the top debaters and instructors in our activity have either attended or taught at the Stanford National Forensic Institute, or both. Some of the students who committed to multiple years with us, really having SNFI as their major camp experience throughout high school, went on to incredible success including winning top speaker at every major tournament in the country. Our approach is simple; we focus on the process over the product, and do our best to create the foundation from which students can be their own best and most reflective critic, and who can thus improve as rapidly as possible throughout the year. Your students will learn how to become a more well-rounded student of logic and rhetoric while at the SNFI. In addition, once your student leaves Stanford they'll return home able to provide guidance to help build and maintain a culture of excellence on each one of their squads. For students who apply themselves and learn the proper techniques the sky is the limit as to their success in this activity. Upon their return everyone who has the opportunity to work with them will see the leadership skills they’ve acquired over the summer. If they bring serious effort to improve to the table, we will match their efforts every step of the way.

These are just a few of the reasons that I believe if you give us the opportunity to work with your students, we can and will contribute to a truly exceptional experience not only during the camp but into the year beyond. In addition, you have my firm personal commitment that if you send your kids to us this summer to learn about policy debate that I will match the efforts of your students with equally or even more intensive efforts on my end. Whatever level of student you send to us, highly experienced or not, I will be personally monitoring everything that happens at our policy camp to make sure we are helping your students reach their most extreme potential. As a staff we will do everything we can to set them up for a tremendous and memorable competitive year in the season ahead. If at any point you need to reach me in reference to your students' progress, I will be available to you just as I will be to your students.

Thanks for considering the Stanford National Forensic Institute's policy program in your summer planning. I hope you will give me and the staff I've helped assemble the chance to work with you and your students this summer, and in the years to come! Please feel free to contact me directly if I can answer any questions for you about our program.

Sincere regards,

Brian J. Manuel
Director of Policy Debate
Stanford Debate Society; Stanford University

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The Stanford National Forensic Institute offers national caliber summer debate programs for students of any level of experience. The Two Week 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.

Director's Note

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!

Parliamentary Debate

At SNFI we believe that there isn't a single "correct" way to do parliamentary debate, but rather that in order to succeed at the national level in both high school and college, parliamentary debaters need a well-rounded set of skills and the ability to borrow from numerous regional styles.  That belief is embodied in the staff we've assembled--at SNFI you'll work with some of the best minds in each parliamentary format!

If you want an opportunity to learn all manners of arguments and debating cultures, parliamentary debate is the format for you! Parliamentary is the most popular form of debate in the world and the most popular form of collegiate debate in the United States.  It is a format that is accessible to students of all different background and perspectives, and, since the topic changes every single round, emphasizes knowledge and research in a breadth of issues.

The camp is rigorously structured in such a way that emphasizes both theory and practice, with classroom lessons running from morning to night, and exemplary instruction offered throughout. In the context of only a week-long camp, there will be an extraordinary fifteen (15) practice rounds evaluated by professional critics who are college competitors and coaches; the fifteen rounds comprise roughly one-third of the total time spent at camp. The rest of the time is spent learning communication theory from professionals and academics, practicing strong research methods, and utilizing small-group exercises to enhance the students’ understanding of the techniques taught. The fundamental premise is that through a combination of theory and practice, the students will not only understand how to write speeches with strong argumentative rigor, but also how to present them in an effective manner to their colleagues and critics.

Parliamentary debate is the most popular form of debate in the world, and it’s only growing. By emphasizing a liberal education approach to debate, where breadth of knowledge is placed at a premium, it is enjoyable to students of all different backgrounds and approaches. At SNFI, we take a student’s passion for debate and argumentation, and use it in order to teach them life skills such as effective presentation, critical thinking skills, and research in an academic setting.

Parliamentary debate offers high school students a unique opportunity to master a broad range of valuable skills – critical thinking, persuasive public speaking & knowledge of world affairs – that will help them succeed in the classroom & in the “real world” of business, government and community.

The fact that mastering these skills also translates into a high level of competitive success at the high school level is what makes parliamentary debate so rewarding to coach.

My goal in structuring this year’s SNFI Parliamentary Debate program is to make sure every student walks away with a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of persuasion, a variety of useful frameworks for debating questions of policy/value/fact, a toolbox full of proven tactics for first & second speakers, and a big-picture context for evaluating world affairs.

Since the norms of parliamentary debate vary from judge-to-judge & region-to-region, our goal is to broaden the tools & strategies that our students can use to succeed in any situation.  Rather than teach a one-size-fits-all method to parliamentary debate, the broad skills of our instructors and a newly expanded lecture/practice format is designed to give you the opportunity to drill down in areas of interest while maximizing your exposure to new perspectives and winning ideas.


Public Forum Debate


The SNFI treats Public Forum as the distinct event it is, and the program has its own dedicated instructional staff as well as a specific division director and a unique curriculum developed for Public Forum. The program is divided into sessions that are organized progressively to cater to students at all levels:

The Beginner's week is a special focus program for beginners and early-intermediate students only, which means these students will be tracked with peers at their own experience level allowing the whole group to accomplish rapid academic progress, yet as a result of the similar skill and experience of the students to move at a comfortable instructional pace and with a friendly and nurturing atmosphere.  After completing the Beginner's week, students will be ready to transition into the 2-Week Core program should they stay for the main session.

The 2-Week Core is the main session, which covers the main topics of the program.  We strongly suggest that all students who attend the SNFI Public Forum program build their experience around the 2-Week Core. 

The Intensive Practice Round Session is a supplemental program focused primarily on practice rounds. After completeing this week, a student will have had experience equivalent to several regular tournaments! In addition to practice rounds, several special topics appropriate for rising varsity level students shall be covered, such as advanced strategy and extensive consideration of advanced crossfire and cross-ex techniques.


Students may do one week, two weeks, or all three weeks of the program.  A student who does the first two weeks can expect to leave the program significantly improved, having progressed significantly in their skill and ability.  Students may wish to do both the 2-Week Core and the Intensive Practice Round Session to get the added benefit of having complete the equivalent of two full tournaments of competition.  It is recommended that students who wish to attend the Intensive Practice Round Session also attend the 2-Week Core, as many of the materials covered in the second week will be used during the Intensive Practice Round Session.  The Intensive Practice Round Session can be attended independently of the other programs if and only if a student is highly motivated and is prepared to arrive at the program having completed significant independent preparatory work. Any student interested in only the Intensive Practice Round Session should contact us for more information (see menu bar and click "contact us").

Coaches Institute

This exciting new program is held July 22-28 on the Stanford campus as part of the Stanford National Forensic Institute program as a service to the high school coaching community, with fees covering room, board, and staffing for the program. Nermin Kamel, Director of the California HS State Speech Championships tournament, is tentatively slated to direct the program. Ms Kamel is an assistant principal at San Ramon Valley High School, and previously was the coach for nearly a decade at La Mirada High School and league president for Southern California Debate League. While at La Mirada Ms Kamel qualified a number of students to late round success at State, Nationals, and most major invitationals.

Attending coaches will participate in structured discussions about a number of important topics such as building a successful program, recruiting students, fundraising, building curriculum for a class vs an after school club, individual events coaching, and coaching debate. Coaches will generally have group meetings in the mornings and evenings, and in the afternoons will have the opportunity to visit lab groups / classes for the events that are of greatest interest to them that are happening at the Stanford National Forensic Institute. Occasional input from the national caliber staff of the regular camp will occur.

The program is designed for beginning to intermediate level coaches, those with no prior experience to a few years of experience.

Please contact us for more details.

Middle School Programs

SNFI Middle School programs prepare middle school students for competitive speech and debate in local leagues and prepares them to enter high school level debate events.  The skills honed in SNFI programs aid students in their academic classwork as they prepare for a rigorous pre-college academic track in high school.  Speech and debate hone many of the most imporant skills needed for a successful professional career in the contemporary world: public speaking, research skills, thinking under pressure, and how to apply analytical approaches to complex problems.

Note: we do not accept international students for any of our middle school sessions.

Congressional Debate

SNFI brings the professionalism and expertise developed over the past 25 years in every format of competitive high school debate to congressional debate!  Our 2-Week Core Congressional Debate Program is designed to give students an opportunity to develop and sharpen their skills for a successful competitive season in congress.

Beginners' Introduction to Debate

This series of programs is designed to be the starting place for students who are just beginning their speech & debate career.  We offer a 1-Week Introduction to Argumentation & Debate which covers the fundamentals and basics of argumentation and debate so that students learn the bedrock skills necessary to enter into one of our debate format specific sessions (ex Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum, Individual Events, Congressional Debate, etc) at a more advanced level.  This session will cover argument theory, basic debate research skills, "flowing" (note taking for debate), and other important topics.  In addition, there will be an introductory survey of the specific formats of competitive debate so that students can make an informed choice about which format to choose for their entry into forensics.

We realize that it is daunting to choose your debate format before you come to camp in the summer, so we offer several longer Beginners’/Intro Flex Packages which allow students to continue into the specific debate format of their choice immediately after completing the survey component of the 1-Week Introduction to Argumentation & Debate session:

Public Speaking Programs

Public speaking is a crtically important skill for almost every profession in today's world, yet many people harbor a fear of speaking in front of others - in fact, speaking in front of others is often ranked near the top of many people's lists of most-feared activites.  It shouldn't be that way!

Public speaking doesn't have to be scary or intimidating, and like the common saying goes, practice does absolutely make perfect!  Our Public Speaking programs are designed to break down the barriers to speaking in front of others through a variety of structured activities that build baseline fundamental logical and rhetorical skills in addition to practicing speaking in a public setting.

SNFI is proud to share our speech & debate education expertise, accumulated since 1990, with students looking to learn the art of public speaking!  Our Public Speaking Camps are perfect for students looking to learn and practice many critical academic and professional skills, including:

Our Public Speaking programs teach many of the same skills as a traditional debate program, just without the focus on direct head-to-head competition, including:


Middle School Debate

SNFI Middle School programs prepare middle school students for competitive speech and debate in local leagues and prepares them to enter high school level debate events.  The skills honed in SNFI programs aid students in their academic classwork as they prepare for a rigorous pre-college academic track in high school.  Speech and debate hone many of the most imporant skills needed for a successful professional career in the contemporary world: public speaking, research skills, thinking under pressure, and how to apply analytical approaches to complex problems.

Note: we do not accept international students for any of our middle school sessions.

Middle School Speech

SNFI Middle School programs prepare middle school students for competitive speech and debate in local leagues and prepares them to enter high school level debate events.  The skills honed in SNFI programs aid students in their academic classwork as they prepare for a rigorous pre-college academic track in high school.  Speech and debate hone many of the most imporant skills needed for a successful professional career in the contemporary world: public speaking, research skills, thinking under pressure, and how to apply analytical approaches to complex problems.

Note: we do not accept international students for any of our middle school sessions.