The Voices Foundation was able to contribute support to thirteen students to attend six different Lincoln-Douglas debate camps/institutes during the Summer of 2009.   The students and their comments follow....

THE STUDENTS:

Rebecca Adams
Tomball High School, Tomball, Texas
Championship Debate Group

Danny Ray Alexander
Mayde Creek High School, Houston, Texas
University of North Texas "Mean Green" LD Debate Camp

Gordon Allen
Analy High School, Sebastopol, California
National Symposium for Debate

Hannah M. Begley
Mountain View High School, Mesa, Arizona
University of Iowa National Summer Institute in Forensics

Angela Jong
Lakes High School, Lakewood, Washington
National Symposium for Debate

Hailey Lopez
Crowley High School, Crowley, Texas
University of North Texas "Mean Green" LD Debate Camp

Benjamin Parker
Glenbrook North High School
Northbrook, Illinois
National Symposium for Debate

Justin Pearce
Esperanza HS, Anaheim, California
Victory Briefs Institute

Hammad Syed
Elkins High School
Missouri City, Texas
University of Texas National Institute in Forensics LD Debate Camp

Shawn Tuteja
The Altamont School
Birmingham, Alabama
Victory Briefs Institute

Alyssea Wacks
Great River School
St. Paul, Minnesota
National Symposium for Debate

Paul Womack
Tomball High School, Tomball, Texas
Championship Debate Group

Mirusha Yogarajah
Stony Point High School, Round Rock, Texas
University of Texas National Institute in Forensics LD Debate Camp

THEIR COMMENTS:

The UNT Mean Green debate camp has been an integral component to my confidence in debate. I intend to make best with what I was provided while attending this camp. If it were not for the Voices Foundation, I would have lost my opportunity to attend UNT. While at UNT I was taught by the best; they insured us that we had the ability to approach any lab leader at our request. I was led by nationally recognized debate coaches, and past debaters in a safe and friendly - yet hardworking - environment.

Voices awarded me the perfect amount of financial assistance, and thus opened the door for not only myself, but for my teammates. I intend on going back to school to help teach my teammates and to keep my coach aware of what is occurring in this progressive activity. Voice has thus not only aided myself, but also many classes to come for my high school.

Voices heard my plea for assistance following a few financial difficulties that my family had incurred at that time. Thanks to them I was able to still be active in this community while my family restored our financial condition. I encourage the continuing support for this humble Foundation, and I recognize the worth of having assistance when you need it most. Thank-you Voices.

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This summer I attended the National Symposium for Debate. I've never been more challenged in my life and it was wonderful. There were students from all around the country... I've never had so many radically different kinds of people in one room before, all extremely passionate and motivated about the same thing. It was a beautiful thing to hear not only people, but people my age chattering enthusiastically in the hallways, on the streets, and especially in our classrooms about philosophy--my favorite subject. It would've been a wonderful experience considering only those facts so far, not even including the ton that I learned about debate while I was there. I was able to sit in on lectures with the best of the best in the country, learn about what they learn about, and even learn about how best to try and beat those types in debate rounds. I was introduced to schools of thought that I didn't know existed and made to research and discuss them extensively. Most importantly, I think, I was made to confront the rather crippling issues that I've had with confidence in myself as a debater. I feel like I'm finally ready to stand up in front of a panel and show them what I can do.

This would not have been possible had it not been for Voices. My family has always had the challenge of trying to do what we can with a small amount of resources. I'm rarely able to experience the type of immersion into a subject that I'm passionate about that comes with an intensive workshop, camp, or other activity because of this. I feel so lucky that the National Symposium for Debate recommends the Voices Foundation to its students for its exceptional support because not only was I able to participate in such an intensive workshop, but I was able attend one of the best in the country on the topic that I most love, where I was able to garner and improve skills that will stay with my for a lifetime.

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Debate is not merely an activity for me. It is an opportunity. I come from a very mediocre high school where our emphasis is on sports. Academics are not emphasized and a challenging activity such as debate, which requires rigorous research and preparation, is something very new to our school. When I started the debate team during my freshman year I had no idea how to debate and no one to support me. But with the aid of the Voices Foundation I was able to go to a very expensive, yet prestigious debate camp that taught me the fundamentals to not only compete competitively on the local circuit, but also to teach my fellow members on my team. That year two members made it to state and one student one the Federal Way Novice Invitational, and everyone trophied.

Debate was not an activity that anyone in my family really believed to be worthwhile nor did my school. So when I tried to convince my family to pay for debate camp a second year, they were hesitant especially with the economic downturn, luxuries were the first to be cut. However with the aid of the Voices Foundation, costs were alleviated and I was able to go. The little that they were able to do with the limited funds went a long ways to not only support me as a debater, but also a whole debate team with an infinite number of resources that I am positive will bring an even greater amount of success this year.

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Debate camp is always a necessity for anyone who is serious about debating. Without the help of Voices, I would not have been able to attend camp at UNT this year. I sought to learn more than just the basics of debate, but also to refine my skills. I had very helpful lab leaders and a wonderful camp experience. I have no doubt that I will be better this year because of camp and it was because of Voices that made that possible.

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NSD was first and foremost academically rigorous. I arrived at camp without having ever used the spread, and with no knowledge of higher level debate concepts such as theory arguments, a prioris, and critical arguments, and limited knowledge of case writing and strategy. Within the first few days, I was assigned enough card cutting for homework that I quickly learned how to search for and utilize arguments in topic literature. Speed drills and focus on word economy allowed me to garner a working knowledge of the spread, while daily lectures on such topics as theory, policy, strategy, philosophy, and social science provided a much needed grounding in fundamental debate concepts, as well as offering a more in-depth analysis of ideas like deontology v. consequentialism, morality, and justice. The low student-instructor ratio made it easy to get personal attention, which allowed me to maximize my learning potential.

At NSD, I felt challenged by the rigorous schedule and coursework, and supported by the outstanding staff. This stimulated me intellectually in a way that I had never experienced before, never having had the opportunity for a formal education in LD. Voices made it possible for me to attend a camp which challenged me, envigorated me, and only strengthened my interest in debate.

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I entered debate camp this year having been a self-taught debater for the most part. One of the reasons that I had never been able to go to camp before had been because of financial issues. I thank the Voices Foundation for their financial assistance in making it possible for me to attend the Victory Briefs Institute this year. Before camp, I had not had much experience responding to critical positions or theory. Now, I can go into rounds with the ability to formulate good responses to these arguments and other types of arguments. I feel that debate camp has helped me acquire the tools and skills necessary to take me to the next level in terms of circuit debate. I will always be thankful for the help of the Voices Foundation in making it possible for me to go to camp this summer.

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I attended the University of Texas National Institute of Forensics (UTNIF), locates in Austin, TX. Ms. Stacy Thomas was the director of the LD program of UTNIF. When I attended the camp I had Andrew Cockroft and Eric Melin as my lab leaders, who were incredible lab leaders and had immense amount of knowledge in regard to the arguments made within rounds and were willing to ensure that students understood the technical and substantative parts of debate. Taking this information in hand, I used it improve my debate skills to a much higher degree. Two weeks of rigor were an amazing contribution to the development of skills.

The only way that I was able to achieve this goal and develop debate skills to the ultimate level, is because of the Voices Foundation. My family only has one person who provides income to a family of seven, and had recently had a twenty percent pay decrease. Moreover, we were in a car accident which took a toll on this money that my family had, because of hospitalization and car damages. Thus, Voices made it possible to attend debate camp. Without it, I know that it wouldn't have been possible to attend camp. The camp made it possible to better myself in debate and help made it even more possible to read my full potential. Thank you so much VOICES FOUNDATION!

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Due to summer debate camp, I have grown in many ways. Going into camp, I knew that I would come out with a better grasp of philosophical and argumentative concepts, and I knew I would also improve in other technical and speaking aspect for debate and life as well. But I never considered just how moved emotionally and mentally I would leave camp. I made many friends from across the country that I have kept in touch with, and I bonded with the leaders of my camp and look to them as mentors. Personally I have both matured and been humbled because of my camp experience. If I needed help, not only were there numerous adults willing to teach me and help me get the most out of camp as possible, but even the other debaters were never hesitant to help out, no matter if it cost them the upper hand. We functioned as a family and all supported each other, perhaps because we had a couple major things in common; we all loved debate and we all wanted to accomplish something great, both together and on an individual level. Camp was phenomenal and went above and beyond my hopes. It kept me working hard to get better at things I had previously learned, and introduced me to brand new concepts. I am extremely thankful for the Voices Foundation for helping me fulfill my debate camp dreams, and securing me with a bright future.

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I am very grateful to the Voices Foundation for enabling me to attend the NSD program this summer.  It was a phenomenal experience.  In addition to learning debate fundamentals and perfecting my argumentation skills through challenging lectures, labs, and practice rounds, I worked with outstanding instructors and made many new friends.  I am a twin and one of four boys.  My two older brothers are in college.  My mother is supporting us by herself.  My brothers and I would not have the good fortune to attend programs like NSD without assistance from organizations like Voices.  It is with heartfelt sincerity and appreciation that I say thank you on behalf of myself and my entire family.

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Camp was GREAT. I learned a lot, I feel more confident in my skills and it was really fun. The best part about it is that while you're at camp you don't exactly realize just how much you're learning, but when you get back it's fun to be able to utilize those skills, and they've helped quite a bit so far as well. Debate camp brought so much knowledge and I was so eager to go. As I've already explained there would have been no way possible for me to otherwise, with all the financial problems my family is in. Your program is a great one because it helps kids like me who want to do things that permit them to be the best they can be, but they are held back because of their income. So I just basically wanted to say thank you for your tremendous amount of help.

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My debate partner and I have been prepping for the upcoming tournaments with newfound confidence because of your contributions. Debate camp was a whole new experience for both of us. Everyday was spent to the fullest, with an average of 13 hours of nonstop work and discussion. We learned more about debate than we could have possibly expected, in addition with all the practice rounds we participated in and watched; everyday held a new lesson to be learned. Through my experience I've gained immense amounts of confidence in myself and my speaking ability.

I owe everything to the Voices Foundation, without them camp wouldn’t have been possible. I've never been able to do much outside of school when money is concerned; competing out of town alone can be difficult at times. So when my coach told me about the Championship Debate Camp I didn’t get my hopes up. But through the kind hearted people at the Voices Foundation I got to be a part of something amazing. I love debate and I am extremely grateful to the Voices Foundation because they gave me the opportunity to do what I love. This debate season will be awesome, all because of camp and the Voices Foundation. Thank you!