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Mich 7 Or Not?

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So I am a sophomore debater at a small school in Northern California, Nevada Union High School and I went to the UNT 3 week camp last year. We have had some success on the national circuit this year and consequently, I have really been looking to going to Michigan 7 week for camp this summer. I have obviously heard many things about it, I know many of the top debaters go there, they put out the most and best evidence from any camp, they probably have the best lab leaders; their reputation really speaks for itself. However, I have heard from both my coach and others who have attended that while all of the above is true, lab leaders really do not take an interest in the development of those attending and some who have gone in previous years say all lab time really is is time to listen to music and cut cards for hours and lab leaders don't really care about you unless you come from a debate power house. I have emailed Aaron Kall, director of debate for Michigan, and both my partner and I got scholarships to go this summer, but I would just like feedback from others in the debate community that have attended Michigan 7 or know a thing or two about it about what the camp is like and if they would recommend going there to develop and hone skills for a hopefully fruitful debate future.

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Camp is what you make of it. I think this general maxim holds true regardless of what camp you go to. When I went there were plenty of people who didn't take advantage of having some of the best debate minds in the country working with them for seven straight weeks, and they didn't improve nearly as much as those who did. The lab leaders tend to take notice of who consistently come to them for feedback, redos, and turn in good research - they'll be more motivated to work with those debaters. It doesn't matter whether you're from a debate powerhouse, are a stellar debater, or an average one - just be involved and no matter what camp you go to you'll find you'll have a better experience. Though honestly there were only two complaints I ever had about 7 Week after having gone there twice, 1. the dorms are pretty lousy, and 2. the cafeteria food gets old after a while (though that's remedied by eating elsewhere). If you have an opportunity to attend 7 Week, I say go for it.

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Thank you very much for the advice! I know I definitely plan on doing more than my fair share of work at camp to get as good as possible for next year. Do you have any recommendations for senior year?

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I'm still convinced that the staff at 7 Week seniors is pretty solid. I know several people who had a great experience going to DDI and doing the Senior Assistants and 5 week program, and others that either did the MSU-Georgetown 7 week combination, or went to one or the other. The staff at all of those camps is solid as well. I know a lot of people say "oh go to X camp if you're a K debater and Y camp if you're policy," but I think that's a poor way to view camp choice. Flexibility is an important quality in a debater, and whether you're a K debater or a policy debater, going to camp to garner an in-depth knowledge of the topic is very beneficial. It is also becoming increasingly irrelevant to pick a camp based on what files they churn out thanks to the Open Evidence project. So I'd say you should wait for the finalized list of staff for each camp you may be thinking about for your senior year, and take it from there. It also may be useful to pick a camp that is known for having access to good research tools, as one of the most important skills you can gain from camp is improved research skills both in-general and topic-specific.

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Thank you very much again for the advice! What you're saying definitely makes a lot of sense. A senior on our team this year went to DDI last summer and really liked it and I was thinking about an early camp and then that because it's very late in the summer, but what you're saying about waiting for a list of lab leaders does seem like a good idea. I have also been really trying to work on flexibility this year to be prepared to whatever sort of panel we may face or some situation we could be in, so thank you for re-assuring both what my partner and I as well as my coaches have been telling us to.

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