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The Seventh Annual Matthew Harris Ornstein Debate Institute was no watered down event!

This year's national debate topic--the protection of Water Resources made for a truly excellent debate camp.

Its been a few weeks, the trophies are being delivered (by mail or at schools) and soon it will be too cold to wear the awesome camp t-shirts (designed by camp alumna Alexa Figueroa). The impact of camp though lasts way beyond trophies and t-shirts. The nearly 200 students who spent 2-3 weeks studying all elements of argument, learning about water resources in the US and how to protect them, and having fun are taking their lessons learned back to school and their debate teams and getting ready to compete this year in the Washington Urban Debate League ( We know they'll do great-- stay tuned for updates.

But debate camp is about so much more than winning debates. It is about learning how to achieve your dreams, whatever those may be. This year we had multiple camp alumni come back to teach (including Dennis Martinez, former winner of the Matthew Harris Ornstein Award). They shared their wisdom and experiences with the next generation of debaters. Teaching them debate--and how they have succeeded at life. For the second year in a row debate camp has included a college fair with over 20 schools from around the country and giving almost 60 students exposure to schools they might never have seen. In a nod to the times-- both COVID and the extraordinary times are students are growing up in, this year's camp also included a mental health seminar that brought in representatives from DC Public Schools and Georgetown University Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

We'd also like to take a moment to recognize Emmanuel Makinde the winner of the seventh annual Matthew Harris Ornstein Award. The Matthew Harris Ornstein Award is given to someone not neccesarily because they excel in debate (though they often do) but because they emulate many of the special qualities that Matthew had such as sportsmanship, kindness, mentorship and sense of humor.

New this year was the inauguration of the Keoni Scott-Reid coaches award. Keoni was the winner of the first Matthew Harris Ornstein Award and died in 2019. He was a fixture at camp and during the debate season at WUDL and in his honor the Matthew Harris Ornstein debate institute has established an award for the coach that best embodies Keoni. This year that went to Danielle Dupree, a WUDL alum who debated with Keoni.

We believe that for the seventh year we have taken care of the whole student, the whole debater, the whole person. Planning is already underway for the 8th Matthew Harris Ornstein Debate Institute in 2022. We'll see you there!

In the mean time, we'd like to take a moment to thank our excellent staff- the true secret sauce to debate institute, our amazing slew of guest speakers (from journalists, to scientists, to legislative aids, to educators from government agencies) who provided invaluable enrichment to our students. Finally, last but not least to David Trigaux and Dara Davis who are our camp administrators and without whom none of our debate programming would be possible.

We encourage you to check out these excellent photos from camp here as you wait for summer 2022!

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Newsweek Articles about Debate Camp

You can find the two articles that Newsweek's Lauren Giella wrote about Debate Camp here: Debate Camp attracts some of the 'smartest people in DC.'

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