No Argument Here Debate and Speech Camp At ETBU Well Worth It For High School Studentsby Robin Y. Richardson News Messenger
MARSHALL NEWS MESSENGER (7/16/13) - After seven years at University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, the Texas Speech and Debate camp moved to the campus of East Texas Baptist University this year, continuing to teach high school students the necessary skills and techniques of having a successful speech and debate season.
"We’re just excited about having them on campus and having them being able to use our facilities and participate and learn the things they need to learn, because the things they learn here they’ll be able to apply when they go back to their campuses, and hopefully win some medals,” said Paul Swearingen, ETBU’s director of camps.
The camp kicked off on Sunday, and will conclude at noon on Saturday.
"It’s the least expensive camp that they’ll get in Texas,” said Nicole Yeakley, camp director.
"I really try to make this camp an individualized process, so I always tell kids, and tell coaches if you want to come to this camp and you don’t think you can afford it, e-mail me and we’ll work something out. We’ll figure out what we can do to get you here. If that means we’ve got to go fundraise or go find donors, we’ll be able to do that because we just want kids to be able to come,” she said.
Yeakley said the camp was founded in 2005 by Tim Cook, debate coach at Salado High School, who saw the need to provide an affordable camp for students to learn and hone their speech and debate skills.
"Tim had a vision; he saw students struggling to attend summer camps that, in some cases, cost two and three thousand dollars. Tim wanted to find a place for the small school kids to attend camp that was affordable, so he started TSDC,” she said.
Cook served as director for the camp until he passed the reign in to Ms. Yeakley in 2012, who was his former assistant debate coach at Salado High School.
"The camp was located at Mary Hardin Baylor. I made the decision, this year, to locate here to ETBU,” she said.
She chose ETBU as the host site after discussing the idea with ETBU President Dub Oliver, whom she met during his tenure at Baylor University.
"I’m a graduate from Baylor University, so I knew him at Baylor, and he’s been talking to me for a while about bringing a camp here,” she said.
The fact that ETBU revived their debate program also enticed Yeakley to bring the camp to the campus.
"ETBU recently restarted their debate program and I really wanted to bring the kids to a university where there was a debate program and they could hear from a debate coach and from existing college debaters to say, ‘here’s a future for you after high school in this event,’” she said.
About 50 students are participating in the camp, which caters from incoming high school freshmen to incoming seniors.
Most of the students hail from the East Texas area, but some traveled as far away as San Angelo and Louisiana to attend.
She said all aspects of speech and debate are very technical, so coming to the camp during the summer really helps.
"(It) makes them able to debate as soon as school starts,” she said. "They don’t have that kind of lag time where they’re trying to catch up. We can do all that here, and then they can get started going to tournaments as soon as they get to school in August.”
The students are being taught by the best of the best such as Jason Jordan, assistant coach at University of Utah and teacher for the camp’s advanced class.
Other coaches participating in the camp are from Lindale, Athens, Hallsville and the Austin area.
Yeakley, the camp director, is a high school debate coach and graduated from Lindale High School where she was a two-time champion for speech and debate. For the last three years, she was debate coach at Athens High School where she had two state champions, a silver medalist and a bronze medalist.
One of Yeakley’s own, Chris O’Brien, a May 2013 graduate from Athens, is serving as a junior staffer, sharing his expertise.
Yeakley said the camp is broken into three parts — lab time, doing drills in groups of six or fewer; lectures; and actual debating, which she says is an important art.
"The cool thing about debate is there is always an answer to your argument,” junior staffer, O’Brien, told his class as he lectured on the topic of whether the United States should increase its economic engagement with Venezuela, Mexico or Cuba.
"I don’t think there’s anything more important for a high school student than to learn how to communicate and learn most importantly how to disagree with others in a respectful manner,” said Yeakley.
"So, I hope what these kids learn is that they may be 14 to 17 years old but they have opinions and they have a voice and there’s a way to express that.
"Debate also teaches them amazing research skills and analytical thinking,” she added.
"I firmly believe that these kids will be more successful in college because of what they’re learning here and in their own speech and debate programs.”
(Used by permission www.marshallnewsmessenger.com)
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