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Maury

Digital Debate Camp

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Throughout my high school debate career, the one factor I had little control over, and what I still consider to have been my greatest inhibitor, was attending debate camp. Debate camps run from $1600 for low-end 3 week camps, up to $6-7,000 for lengthier sessions. For most families, especially in hard economic times, that sum of money can be impossible to find.

 

I often see posts in this forum asking “where is a cheap camp near X” with usually little meaningful reply. It can be extremely challenging for a student to find a decent debate camp in their area, especially one that is affordable.

 

I present a possible solution. Along with the assistant coach of the McDonoghSchool, I have developed a digital debate camp.

How this camp works: a student signs up and will instantly begin receiving pre-camp files. Once the camp begins, lectures will be done daily via various online formats. Some lectures will be done via video services, others through large group chats, etc. In addition, students will receive assignments the same way they would any other camp. The difference, and what sets our camp apart from others, is that students receive functionally infinite one-on-one time.

 

Due to the low overhead costs associated with an online camp, the price for students is incredibly low: our cheapest package is $200, with the most expensive being $300. A discount is available for UDL students and individuals who need it, on a case by case basis.

 

The camp is intended for any level of skill or familiarity with debate. Because of the nature of the camp, any degree of experience can be accommodated for.

 

In addition to myself. lab leaders include McDonogh Assistant Coach Scott Brown and the 2009 Glenbrooks champion David Michael Mullins.

 

Guest lectures will be provided by an amazing faculty including: TOC quarterfinalists Patrick Butler and Alex Resar, and U of Miami’s rising star, Leandra Lopez.

 

More information can be found on our website: http://edebatecamp.com/index.htm

 

Anyone with questions can post them here, PM me, or email me at steven.murrayr[at]gmail.com

Edited by Maury
added new lab leader

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Would video lectures be saved or something for access later? I'd love to participate and get the most possible out of it, but if I'm at camp I don't know how feasible that would be. Also, how often would assignments be given?

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Evidence will be placed on open access at the end of the camp.

 

There will be a recording of all lectures, which students have access too. The beauty of the digital camp is that even if you have to take a break in the middle for vacation, other camps, etc, you can come right back in anytime you have free time and catch up.

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The camp is a an idea in the right direction. I'm sure you and Scott all have the best of intentions, but out of principle I can't categorically recommend to a debater from a low-income family to transfer $200 to Scott Brown. I hope this type of camp succeeds, but suggest doing it for free for the initial year to prove a credible reputation in the debate community.

 

When Burshteyn unsuccessfully tried this a few months ago, he neglected to follow the instructions on debate camp advertising and the thread was deleted.

 

I did not know about this rule, thanks Synergy. I will e-mail Phil Kerpen.

 

AND,

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem:

 

"An ad hominem, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument toward the person"), is an attempt to persuade which links the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.[1] The ad hominem is a classic logical fallacy.[2]"

 

Just because we don't get along does not mean I am not an ethical person. If you have any personal questions, you can direct them at my inbox. Try not resorting to ad hominem attacks (fallacies) and commenting on issues that you have no knowledge about.

 

Thanks,

Scott

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Scott,

I apologize for poorly communicating my intentions to you with the above post. I can see why you would take that defensive tone if you saw my criticism as a personal attack or ad-hom. However, my intent was not a personal attack, but rather a suggestion for the camp's success. I am not questioning your personal integrity, I am just pointing out you don't have an established and trusted professional track-record of being a director of debate camps or of running paid online services. I believe you have the intention of running a great camp. I hope you consider doing a free year to establish the credibility of your services, instead of immediately asking people for money upfront.

 

It's up to you to take this suggestion, but I am not going to continue to argue with you in this thread. I don't really care if it makes me look bad to criticize you on a cross-x.com thread, but I feel like I must make this post in a public forum to warn others, especially those who may be considering this because it's all they can afford. Burshteyn, a debater with a very successful college career and who has taught at many camps, attempted an online debate camp a few months ago (I supported this by being one of the instructors), but was unsuccessful because this idea is currently too far ahead of its time. Your website does not even have a refund policy, which is a crucial guarantee to earn trust. Right now it seems like you're using the good name of the activity to ask families for a nonrefundable check of $200-$300 without much an explanation of what the expected product or curriculum will be. Personally, I have a very strong hope in seeing online debate camps succeed, which is why it concerns me that if attempts like this continue and do not succeed then the overall idea will be treated like a joke and unworkable. There needs to be a free proof-of-concept attempt to show this can work.

This is pretty spot on. Real-life debate camps are run by college (or high school) debate professionals with years of experience. They put their reputations on the line every summer to deliver a quality camp experience. At real institutes, college debaters serve as lab leaders alongside veteran coaches and have to answer to the director. Contrast that with your online camp, which is literally being run out a few college students' bedrooms. There's zero accountability. College kids are notoriously flaky. That's not an indict of you specifically, it's simply a fact of life. I'm sure you have every intention of doing your best to educate students. But let's not lie to ourselves, you're not doing this out of the goodness of your heart, you're doing it to make money. Nothing wrong with that, but still.

 

Along similar lines with regards to what Alex was saying, you offer a lot of cool features on your website, but you don't really articulate a coherent plan for implementing them. For $200-$300 I would expect to receive a finished product, not something that you make up as you go along. Without some sort of satisfaction guarantee I cannot in good conscience recommend this to any of my debaters.

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Gulakov,

 

I still don’t understand how “I wouldn’t give Scott Brown $200 isn’t a personal attack” in redemption for you not liking me which is probably the reason you are posting in the first place. But this is beside the point and for another day.

 

Track Record: We don’t have one. No, I don’t have an established track record of being a director of a debate camp. I’ve been a lab leader at camps for two summers, which should serve enough to overcome the barrier of entry into the market. Paul Rand won in Kentucky today because for the simple fact that he didn’t have a track record.

 

We already have enough signups to run the camp fully as is. The problems with free services are there is no barrier to entry into the market and no incentive or way to get lecturers or lab leaders. By barrier into entry, I mean that it is not possible to run a successful camp if anyone can sign up for free which puts a tremendous burden on staff (which wouldn’t exist if the camp were free) when hundreds of debaters say, “Hey, why not!” and sign up for the camp. How am I supposed to establish credibility with this model? Second, there is no incentive or possible way for me to get individuals to lead labs or give lectures without pay. I will contemplate your idea of a free camp and even possibly make it happen, but at the current moment we have enough actual sign-ups to run the camp. I think this sets a bad precedence for new camps to be free in the future. Georgetown was a new camp last year and certainly wasn’t free.

 

There is no feasible way with the current number of sign-ups that the camp will be cancelled, so these considerations you talk about were not taken into account. This is because before launching the camp, I made sure there were enough interested parties that what happened to Burshteyn wouldn’t happen to me. Burshteyn, at least publically, announced that he did not have the sign ups necessary to support the All Star staff he had put together.

 

 

You say that you have to make the public aware. I love transparency. The problem is that it is hard to make transparent to people who don’t have access to the Camp Dropbox and such how much work has actually been done for the camp. A starter set is already finished with three different affirmatives and a bunch of the usual, just like any other camp.

 

Please reach me at scottbrown [dot] 40 [at] gmail to talk about the refund issue as I want to gain more insight from you over this. I know you’ve got a lot of ideas and not exactly the appropriate forum to explain them. Obviously if the camp were somehow to be cancelled (which it won’t, in order to help the legitimacy of online camps as you say) there would be refunds.

 

Nick,

 

I think most of what you said is answered about. A couple specifics:

 

I am putting my reputation on a huge line here by starting this camp and the pressure to come through with a finished product. Yes, I am a college student. Yes, this is being run from home (actually my basement :D). I don’t see what is wrong with this because it is inevitable with an online debate camp. If <Insert X College Directors Name Here> were running the camp, they would probably be doing 95% of the work from their office as well (which is in the basement of my house). I think the accountability question is more along the lines of questioning online debate camps as a whole, rather than what I am doing specifically.

 

Yes, the camp will make money in its current form. I will probably make way less than minimum wage for the amount of time having put in, but I love teaching debate and am doing so regardless of the job that Best Buy offered me as a mobile phone salesmen :D. Aspects of the camp like the discount for UDL students is however out of the goodness of my heart, having working with the Houston UDL as Trinity has done all year. I have received e-mails from many of the UDL directors thanking me for this. But I probably still lose to the Capitalism Kritik, you’re right.

 

Sincerely

 

Scott

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I'm down for this. Murray's helped me out quite a bit, and this definitely sounds like a sweet deal. Especially coming from a poor school and having to a ton to simply get to tournaments. My partner and I are planning on doing this as a supplement to the camps we're signing up for.

 

Steven's actually helped me free of charge in the past, so I'm confident that this camp is a legitimate attempt to better the community for those who don't have the means of going to camp.

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This is because before launching the camp, I made sure there were enough interested parties that what happened to Burshteyn wouldn’t happen to me. Burshteyn, at least publically, announced that he did not have the sign ups necessary to support the All Star staff he had put together.

 

Just want to clarify, and re-state that I did in fact not have the number of signups to commit and move forward with the necessary preparations from staff. To be specific: we had 3 deposits, for a total of $600, and over $2,000 promised in staff salaries. My personal finances did not enable me to front the cost of this, even though I was confident that we would get the necessary signups.

 

While I appreciate the sympathy, I wouldn't say that anything "happened" to me. It was poor planning on my part to attempt to start with such a big splash rather than growing the InfiniteCamp concept gradually.

 

The organizers of Basecamp, 37signals, who also invented the Ruby on Rails framework for the web, provided what I thought to be an accurate description of my mistake:

 

Half, Not Half-Assed

Build half a product, not a half-ass product

 

Beware of the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to web app development. Throw in every decent idea that comes along and you'll just wind up with a half-assed version of your product. What you really want to do is build half a product that kicks ass.

 

Stick to what's truly essential. Good ideas can be tabled. Take whatever you think your product should be and cut it in half. Pare features down until you're left with only the most essential ones. Then do it again.

 

While I did choose to refund all deposits to InfiniteCamp and shut it down as it was, I did hope that I could come up with an alternative solution to provide the type of "proof of concept" that would make this a viable type of instruction. In that vein, InfiniteCamp as a branded entity is still on. I thought about keeping it under wraps for another week or two as I polished it, but hey, what the hell. Check out the early design elements @ http://www.infinitecamp.com.

 

My goal is to start small. Initially, I will be the only contributing instructor. I will do my best to provide quality content including my own thoughts and musings about the topic. I am also working on "camp kits" that can be purchased at a level similar to files which are commonly purchased throughout the season. The make-up of these kits is still up in the air, but I intend the first one to be made available in the near future. I do aim to scale the experience over the summer, by recycling any revenue from initial sales of my kits into hiring back the all-star talent that I had lined up. There will be no $200 deposit, and it will be entirely a pay-as-you-go model. In the vein of Nick's comments, students will know (and be able to preview) exactly what it is they are paying for.

 

I welcome any suggestions and commend everyone else in this space for their "market making" initiative, and believe the debate community at large will benefit.

 

I am honored that already others are taking lessons from my initial mistakes.

 

Best regards,

 

Mike Burshteyn

http://www.infinitecamp.com

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dang that's a lot of backfiles

 

Or a LOT of International Law Good and pretty comprehensive 2ac/1ar blocks :cool:

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I have to agree with that dude above, I don't remember his name.

 

Maury is actually a really nice guy and has helped me free of charge before. While I can't speak for Scott (I think that's his name), Maury, I'm sure will make this camp happen and make it a success.

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Is there any chance that Michael Hart may make an appearance as a guest lecturer or something? That guy's amazing. :D

Michael is elbow deep in asian teens and will therefore not be making any appearances. However, I taught with Michael for a semester at Westwood and debate on the same squad as he does, so I think I can cover his bases.

 

I have to agree with that dude above, I don't remember his name.

 

Maury is actually a really nice guy and has helped me free of charge before. While I can't speak for Scott (I think that's his name), Maury, I'm sure will make this camp happen and make it a success.

 

His name is PJ, btw. And Scott is, much like Rob Burgundy, "The Balls" - I would trust scott to coach me before any round I can remember ever having, and he was actually instrumental to a few wins this past year. Scotts coaching record kinda speaks for itself though.

 

I'd like to think I am a pretty good coach myself, but I never got a team to the quarters of the TOC.

 

dang that's a lot of backfiles

Jealous?

 

Scott,

I hope you consider doing a free year to establish the credibility of your services, instead of immediately asking people for money upfront.

...

Personally, I have a very strong hope in seeing online debate camps succeed, which is why it concerns me that if attempts like this continue and do not succeed then the overall idea will be treated like a joke and unworkable. There needs to be a free proof-of-concept attempt to show this can work.

Gulakov,

 

I will throw down the gauntlet. You insist you are in favor of seeing a digital camp, and also believe the initial run of that camp should be free. It seems to me that you are trying to discredit my camp to make yours sound better - but I don't want to infer, and instead will give you the opportunity to prove your intentions are benign. Since you do not think Scott or I deserve to be paid for this adventure, I assume you agreed to work for Mike for free, correct? Since his institute is currently underdeveloped, I would like to extend to you an invitation to coach at the Digital Debate Camp. We will not pay you, because that would be unethical, but your presence at the camp would surely be a pedagogical bonus for the students already attending. In exchange, I will continue to push debate synergy and the fire-fox add-ons you developed, as well as offer my services for free to your digital camp.

 

What do you say? Will you really deny developing debaters the chance to succeed?

 

XOXO,

Steven

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Is there any chance that Michael Hart may make an appearance as a guest lecturer or something? That guy's amazing. :D

 

Well, I'm no Michael Hart, but I'm the next best thing. Someone who was coached (read: berated endlessly) by Michael Hart (to the extent of conceding a round and locking myself in a closet and crying during Berkley) who will be giving a guest lecture at the camp.

 

And Gulakov, I'm doing the guest lecture for free. For the sake of creating better 2ars all around the debate community.

 

For real real: I'm going to guest lecture, it's going to be on breaking down how to give (more) effective 2ars, I'm doing it for free, and it shall be recorded for reproduction at the discretion of the DDC. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give out the details for how the lecture will be given, I'll leave that to Steven's discretion, but from the format I was given it seems like any other lab, except I get to watch porn while talking.

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Bump. my post wasn't recognized by the forums.

You attention whore. No one has to acknowledge the presence a post.

 

But really, I would like to see you present while looking at porn

Edited by Shinku-hadoken

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Well, I'm no Michael Hart, but I'm the next best thing. Someone who was coached (read: berated endlessly) by Michael Hart (to the extent of conceding a round and locking myself in a closet and crying during Berkley) who will be giving a guest lecture at the camp.

 

And Gulakov, I'm doing the guest lecture for free. For the sake of creating better 2ars all around the debate community.

 

For real real: I'm going to guest lecture, it's going to be on breaking down how to give (more) effective 2ars, I'm doing it for free, and it shall be recorded for reproduction at the discretion of the DDC. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give out the details for how the lecture will be given, I'll leave that to Steven's discretion, but from the format I was given it seems like any other lab, except I get to watch porn while talking.

 

I can't wait to hear this.

 

Also: Wow. Hart was harsh.

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Well, I'm no Michael Hart, but I'm the next best thing. Someone who was coached (read: berated endlessly) by Michael Hart (to the extent of conceding a round and locking myself in a closet and crying during Berkley) who will be giving a guest lecture at the camp.

 

And Gulakov, I'm doing the guest lecture for free. For the sake of creating better 2ars all around the debate community.

 

For real real: I'm going to guest lecture, it's going to be on breaking down how to give (more) effective 2ars, I'm doing it for free, and it shall be recorded for reproduction at the discretion of the DDC. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give out the details for how the lecture will be given, I'll leave that to Steven's discretion, but from the format I was given it seems like any other lab, except I get to watch porn while talking.

 

tsk,tsk,tsk...kersh im sure porn doesn't get the jesus stamp of approval. It's a horrible depressing sinful addiction, now excuse me, because i'm not about to miss this facial because i was shaming you.

Edited by Lemur

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tsk,tsk,tsk...kersh im sure porn doesn't get the jesus stamp of approval. It's a horrible depressing sinful addiction, now excuse me, because i'm not about to miss this facial because i was shaming you.

 

I know you get to spend a whole month with me, but are you also doing DDC?

 

You should.

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I am not attending DDC so I'm not sure if it matters, but I would really like to learn about strategy stuff, specifically how to make a "perfect storm" 1NC, as mentioned in the D&G thread.

 

If you put the lecture videos about strategy online you'd be awesome.

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I am not attending DDC so I'm not sure if it matters, but I would really like to learn about strategy stuff, specifically how to make a "perfect storm" 1NC, as mentioned in the D&G thread.

 

If you put the lecture videos about strategy online you'd be awesome.

 

But they'll already be online because it's an online debate camp!

 

In all seriousness, QFA.

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I am not attending DDC so I'm not sure if it matters, but I would really like to learn about strategy stuff, specifically how to make a "perfect storm" 1NC, as mentioned in the D&G thread.

 

If you put the lecture videos about strategy online you'd be awesome.

Yeah, make all the lectures public pl0x

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So they should make the lectures that people are paying for absolutely free along with all evidence produced by the camp. Wait, why are people paying then?

Edited by Studley Dudley

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