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Hello,

I'm a sophmore in high school and I just finished my second season of LD. I was considering going to camp this summer (haven't decided where). However, when I talked to my coach, he told me it was a waste of time and money. I disagree with him on this point, but I respect his opinion nonetheless. I just want to know if it's really worth it to go to camp. I want to be more competitive next season, and I heard camp is good for that. Is it worth it?

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tl;dr: camp is generally good if you take advantage of opportunities and if you're a certain personality type, but is full of potential pitfalls you should carefully consider before dropping the money. not going to camp doesn't mean you're doomed to being a bad debater, and there are things you can do from home that will lead to improvements over the summer. full version below.

 

disclaimer: i went to camp as a policy debater rather than as a LD debater. specifically, i went to MSU's 4-week camp, which at the time cost $4800 before financial aid. i also did the digital debate camp which was organized by cross-x user Maury, but the year that i did that camp it was unfortunately understaffed and the staff that were there were largely unavailable and abandoned their responsibilities, which (to my understanding) was not Maury's fault. the advice i'm about to give is based on these experiences, as well as the anecdotes i have about teammates who have gone to various camps including UMich 7-week, Northwestern, and Women's Debate Institute.

 

camps offer a few benefits: being surrounded by other debaters so that you can discuss debate constantly with people who have different experience levels or regional differences, enforcement of a strict schedule which prioritizes debate and provides an intense experience of working on your skills, and access to some of the greatest minds in contemporary debate. you are essentially paying to think about, work on, and practice debate all day for a good chunk of your summer. you need to come to a subjective decision as to whether you think that it's worth it, and this will be informed partially by who the leaders of the camp are and the reputation that it has. is having access to a veritable "who's who" of debate stars worth a price tag of nearly $5000? that's your decision to make.

 

there are a few considerations you may want to take into account before making this decision. if you're going to pay to have access to these people, then it's in your best interest to engage with them as much as you can. this means actually putting legitimate effort towards your lab assignments, it means talking to your lab leaders after lectures or at nights if they're around, it may even mean sitting with instructors at meals and taking the opportunity to pick their brain on debate-related questions and issues instead of always hanging out with people from your workshop group. most of the people who have told me that they felt that camp was a waste of money are people who didn't take the fullest advantage of what camp is all about. a relevant consideration in your ability to follow through with this is how susceptible you are to burnout. debate tends to be an activity with high burnout rates to begin with due to the amount of work it routinely requires from debaters, but this gets cranked up to 11 when put in a context where you're working and thinking about debate anywhere from 7-10 hours a day at a minimum, sometimes more if you're preparing for the camp tournament. the intensity of the schedule isn't for everyone, and i've seen people who went into camp fully intending on working hard end up being a bit of a slacker due to the mental pressures of camp. (i should know, as i was one of them.) you can mitigate this by giving yourself appropriately timed breaks from debate work to go run around outside a bit, play video games, whatever it is that makes you destress after a long day, but it will still be a factor in your decision on whether camp is right for you.

 

camps also have rules, which sounds obvious to say but this does take people by surprise at times. more or less, if it's illegal for you to do outside of camp, it's still illegal at camp and you can get kicked out. underage drinking, underage smoking, and drug use are all things you will need to weigh carefully. i'm not necessarily saying that you shouldn't do these things (my personal feelings on alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs aren't really the point here), but what i will say is that you need to understand the potential consequences of engaging in these behaviors and decide if they're worth it to risk doing at camp. this isn't to say that none of these things happen at camps. at MSU the year i went, there was a rumor that there were several college students on the staff that would get you alcohol and/or drugs if you paid them, which is a rumor i can neither confirm nor deny. however, if these are parts of your life that you place a high priority on, camp may not be the best fit for you.

 

it's also worth considering that you probably won't be able to see your friends unless they're also debaters and go to the same camp as you. even if you go to a local camp, the strict schedule will keep you busy, and some camps have rules forbidding non-campers who aren't relatives from visiting except during prohibitive hours of the morning or late night. being away from friends that long can be an isolating experience depending on how long your camp is. this can be slightly less of a problem for some people. if you're the kind of person who finds that they're social and outgoing enough to make new friends easily, then this will be less of a problem for you. but if you tend to be shy or uncomfortable around people you don't know well, camp may not be the best fit.

 

so say you look at this list and you decide for whatever reason you think camp isn't right for you. are you doomed to being a terrible debater forever? absolutely not. what you're losing most when you decide to not go to camp is the potential to interact with highly respected members of the debate community. however, you can be in regular contact with your coach and with other motivated members of your squad or with people from other schools that you're friends with so that you still get opportunities to talk about debate. nobody will be forcing you to work on debate all the time, but honestly that's true of camp as well. if you want to goof off at camp, there's very little that they can do to stop you. it's up to you to be disciplined enough to work on debate, but this also means that if you stay home you can give yourself breaks according to your own needs to prevent burnout. if you put in the effort but don't go to camp, you will end up a better debater than if you went to camp and slacked off. whatever decision you make, you will have options available to you that will lead to improvement, and options that will lead to a failure to grow. it's up to you to choose the options that you will appreciate later.

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it will make you substantially better

A substantial increase is at least 30%

FOLEY & LARDNER LLP 2004    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20060057593.html

 A substantial increase in the amount of a CFTR target segment identified means that the segment has been duplicated while a substantial decrease in the amount of a CFTR target segment identified means that the target segment has been deleted. The term "substantial decrease" or "substantial increase" means a decrease or increase of at least about 30-50%. Thus, deletion of a single CFTR exon would appear in the assay as a signal representing for example of about 50% of the same exon signal from an identically processed sample from an individual with a wildtype CFTR gene. Conversely, amplification of a single exon would appear in the assay as a signal representing for example about 150% of the same exon signal from an identically processed sample from an individual with a wildtype CFTR gene.

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it will make you substantially better

A substantial increase is at least 30%

FOLEY & LARDNER LLP 2004    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20060057593.html

 A substantial increase in the amount of a CFTR target segment identified means that the segment has been duplicated while a substantial decrease in the amount of a CFTR target segment identified means that the target segment has been deleted. The term "substantial decrease" or "substantial increase" means a decrease or increase of at least about 30-50%. Thus, deletion of a single CFTR exon would appear in the assay as a signal representing for example of about 50% of the same exon signal from an identically processed sample from an individual with a wildtype CFTR gene. Conversely, amplification of a single exon would appear in the assay as a signal representing for example about 150% of the same exon signal from an identically processed sample from an individual with a wildtype CFTR gene.

great T definition m8, but it's false:

A substantial reduction is at least 50%  8th Circuit 09 (United States Court of Appeals,Eighth Circuit. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Tracy BRUNKEN, Defendant-Appellant. United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Amy Whitlock, Defendant-Appellant. October 5. Nos. 08-2488, 08-2783. Decided: October 5, 2009 See more at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-8th-circuit/1498924.html#sthash.hWznX5dK.dpuf)

I don't believe the substantial assistance in this case was extraordinary, and that's why I didn't give a 50 percent reduction. However, if the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit believes that [Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 128 S.Ct. 586, 169 L.Ed.2d 445 (2007),] alters the requirement that in order to have a 50 percent reduction it has to be extraordinary, based on the defendant's substantial assistance and my evaluation of the 5K1.1 factors, I would give a 50 percent reduction in this case if I wasn't required to follow existing Eighth Circuit law.

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bumping this thread because i put way too much thought and effort into that post to have it buried in topicality memes

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