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A student at the Cornell debate camp

ILR Hosting Debate Camp July 29-Aug 6

International campers and students from California, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesoata and New York are slated to arrive on campus this summer for a week of learning at the Cornell International Summer Debate Camp led by the ILR School Speech and Debate Program.

From July 29 through Aug. 6, campers will learn civil discourse skills across debate formats, practice them in camp exercises and then use them in camp tournaments.

Camp instructors include Cornell University faculty, debate coaches from high school and college programs, and top college debaters. Students receive academic insights into contemporary topics from faculty, then discuss the issues in the World Schools Debate format.

“The Cornell International Summer Debate Camp is different from other camps because our view is that debate skills are relevant not only for success in competitions, but also for academic contexts and life applications beyond the classroom,” said Armands Osvalds Revelins. He is the camp's director and assistant director of the Cornell Speech and Debate Program, based at the ILR School.

“We feature Ivy League professor lectures on social issues alongside staff lectures on debate techniques, and we focus on debate fundamentals that would be relevant in any setting where critical thinking and having a compelling argument is relevant,” he said.

In a Cornell "All Things Equal" radio show segment, Revelins described how learning about debate helps speakers communicate in a structured way that allows them to articulate their perspectives.

Residential campers stay in Cornell campus dorms and eat in the university dining halls that serve undergraduate students. Camp staff members lead evening recreational activities on campus.

Commuter campers participate in the same 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. activities as campers who stay on campus.

Sean O'Neil, who was president of the George Washington University Debate & Literary Society and is now a Harvard Law School student, credits the summer debate camp with helping him learn how to effectively speak in public.

"The passion for debate and skills I gained at the camp have also played an essential role in my academic and career development, from joining the debate team in college to the internships and jobs I have pursued and my ultimate decision to go to law school," he said in a 2022 interview.

Although students are recruited nationally and internationally for the camp, students in Tompkins County and its contiguous counties are invited to participate. Need-based scholarships are available to defray the $650 day camp tuition, according to Revelins, who can be reached at

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