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A Review of the Capitol Debate Summer Camp (UNC-Chapel Hill)

By: Gloria Gao

The shy kid gets up and starts speaking boldly about a captivating topic. How is this happening? The answer: Capitol Debate. Capitol Debate is a two-week summer camp held at different college campus locations around the U.S. At Capitol Debate, kids of all ages get to step out of their shells and learn about debate. I attended the UNC-Chapel Hill location, which was held from June 12th to June 23rd. There are many factors that go into rating residential summer camps. I will be focusing on three aspects: the educational value, the residential accommodations, and the social aspect of camp.

Before I went to Capitol Debate, I knew virtually nothing about debate. I can say that I walked out of this camp with a good basic understanding of how to debate. We learned how to write a persuasive speech, how to talk off notecards, how to create rebuttals and respond to them, and how to write a great concluding speech. These skills were reinforced with an end-of-camp debate tournament. I enjoyed how fast-paced the curriculum was. On the first day, we were thrown right into the deep end when we started writing our opening speeches. I managed to finish mine in a few days, which gave me a lot of time to practice and refine my speech. Additionally, the junior instructors had a lot of experience with debate, and we got to see many hands-on demonstrations. However, the teaching style was not very exceptional. Our classes mainly consisted of going through various slideshows. While there were opportunities to get up and speak, I believe that all students could’ve benefited more if practicing our speaking was the focus of the class. All in all, Capitol Debate did a good job with teaching me the very basics of debate.

One of Capitol Debate’s more unique points is that it offers a residential program. As a former residential camper, I must say that living on campus helped me immerse myself in the program more. The food was decent and there were always many diverse dining selections available. The UNC-Chapel Hill dorms were also quite comfortable. Our shower spurted out freezing water for the first few days, but other than that, I wasn’t repulsed by our living space. Additionally, the dorm lounges were extremely fun to hang out in because of the cool sofas and exciting poker games. Campus life was enhanced by late-night food orders and impromptu ramen meals. The counselors made everything even more entertaining, and I will always be grateful for the chance to be a residential student because of all the fun!

The most important aspect of Capitol Debate to me was the lifelong memories I will cherish forever. When I was at camp, I met many amazing people that were easy to get along with. Without them, my experience would’ve been sub-par. Everyone was extremely nice. For example, even though we had a competitive debate tournament at the end of camp, everyone was able to be polite and respectful of each other. My friends and I helped each other prepare for our debates by attending study hall in the lounges together. Eating in the dining hall was always fun because everyone would manage to erupt in laughter at some point during our meal. During the evening, we would always show up in the lounges to play poker. I’ve never played poker in my life, but I picked the game up quickly, which made camp life even more fun. Being at Capitol Debate was amazing because of the great companionships I forged with some of the friendliest people ever!

Based on all of my observations, I have decided to rank Capitol Debate with a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. The education wasn’t phenomenal, but it still left me with a lasting appreciation and grasp of debate. Residential life was fun, and the accommodations were pleasant. The social life was amazing and the best part of this camp. There were a lot of funny and cool people to be around, and I will miss all the friends I have made. In conclusion, I believe that Capitol Debate was a great experience! If you grab the early bird prices, then Capitol Debate is a great splurge to spend your summer in a productive way.

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