(Source: Omar Guevara) The Weber State Debate team helps students from all over the country master the art of debate.
(Source: Omar Guevara) The Weber State Debate team helps students from all over the country master the art of debate.

Misty Tippets’ day begins at 8:30 a.m., hours before most college students are even awake. She is on campus lecturing by nine in the morning as her fellow classmates are enjoying their vacation.

As a lab leader at the Weber State Debate Institute this summer, her day will not end until nine at night.

A sophomore in Weber State University’s Civic Advocacy program, Tippets is also a six-year veteran of high school and college debate. She first joined a debate club when she attended Bingham High School.

“It’s probably one of the biggest parts of my life,” Tippets said.

Tippets accompanies over a hundred high school students from Utah and neighboring states attending the 2014 Weber State Debate Institute, a program that began on July 13, and will run until August 2.

The camp is completely immersive, demanding a full time commitment according to Scott Odekirk, Copper Hills High School teacher and director of curriculum for policy debate at the camp.

“We get the opportunity to teach these skills without any other distractions or anything else going on in their lives,” Odekirk said. He later called the experience a “boot camp” for debate.

“We’re trying to produce really great debaters,” Odekirk said. “We work them really hard.”

The day begins at 8:30 with roll call for attendees, followed by three hours of lecture until noon. Students get an hour lunch, and then break up into “labs” or groups of 14-15 students paired with three instructors.

Tippets is a lab leader and she works with her students alongside two other teachers. She teaches and lectures on the fundamentals of debate and how students can be successful debaters during the morning meetings.

The lab meetings focus discussion on the morning lectures, letting students discuss and ask questions about what they learned. Tippets also practices debating with the students, helping them hone their skills over the course of the camp.

Students get one four-hour lab meeting in the afternoon, and another three-hour lab meeting after dinner that runs until nine.

Tippets has already seen improvement with the students she has worked with.

“On the first day they were really quiet and didn’t want to ask any questions or anything like that,” Tippets recalled. “Now you see them starting to ask questions, and also answering questions.”

Ryan Cheeks, WSU assistant director of forensics, said the main goal of this camp is to prepare students to debate during the upcoming season at their local high school teams.

“We get them up to date on the latest innovations and newest techniques,” Cheeks said, noting that college debate is the highest you can go with the discipline.

The camp also prepares students to debate certain topics coming up during the school year. Policy debate, for instance, is focusing on public policies surrounding the ocean.

Further, the camp helps students develop critical thinking skills and the ability to research and evaluate evidence.

“Hopefully when they get out of this camp they’re more prepared, better engaged and ready to do battle,” Cheeks said.

For Tippets, who has attended the camp three years as a high school student, her goal is more simple.

“I want them to get the same experience as I did,” Tippets said, “Being able to feel as if they can progress and start winning rounds, start winning tournaments, but also make them feel secure with themselves as a debater.”

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