Democracy Debate 3.0: Model Congress


  • Grades: Boys and girls in upcoming grades 6-11 for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Location: Online
  • Dates: Aug 3 - Aug 7
  • Time: 10:00 a.m. - 1:45 p.m.
  • Staff: Director: Mike Jackson, M.A. Curriculum, Instruction and Supervision; Community Middle School Social Studies/U.S. History Teacher, Princeton University Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Rider University Practicum in Education Mentor Teacher, Former World History Teacher & Lead Pilot Teacher of the 8th Grade Global Challenge -- awarded “Best Practice in Education” at the United Nations; Published Co-Author of “They’re Doing it in Social Studies ...Because They Have a Voice” on Teaching Controversial issues via Switch-Side Debate & Democratic Discussion: WW-P District Strategic Planning Team; Trenton Times & Trentonian “Coach of the Year.”
  • More staff information 
  • Fee: $150
  • Residency: No residency restrictions


Debate & Model Congress Camp 3.0 is in its 2nd summer -- after premiering last summer with overwhelming success, the Debate Camp Staff is excited to present an elite-level Academic Camp Experience! Debate & Model Congress 3.0 is limited to participants who have already completed a week of Debate & Mock Trial Camp 2.0 in any previous summer; currently registered for a week of Debate & Mock Trial Camp 2.0 for the summer of 2020; or incoming 9th & 10th Graders (exempt from the prerequisite of attending Debate & Mock Trial 2.0)

Each Camper/Senator/Representative will need a laptop, desktop, Chromebook or tablet compatible with Zoom & Google Classroom. All debate & problem-solving resources will be located in Google Classroom. Whole group Assembly floor meetings will take place on Zoom and small-group breakout lessons and work sessions will take place in Zoom breakout “rooms” and/or Google Hangouts. It is required and essential that each camper have a device that is charged or plugged-in and that there is reliable Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection available. 

Similar to Debate & Mock Trial 2.0, Debate & Model Congress 3.0 will feature a lightning-fast pace and a more advanced program designed to move beyond advanced-level debate into problem-solving, and diplomacy = essential skills for Model Congress! This is your Honors/AP Debate Camp! Students will continue to receive direct instruction, practice, and feedback in the use of rhetoric = literary devices such as stealing thunder, repetition, parallelism, analogies, and metaphors. Debaters and Model Congress participants will hone their radar and be rewarded with competition points for recognizing overly-biased research & spin, as well as calling opponents out for the use of logical fallacies such as faulty cause & effect, illogical leaps, haphazard generalizations, “slippery slope” arguments, “apples to oranges” comparisons/metaphors, and “straw man” arguments. These sophisticated communication tools coupled with the awareness of verbal combat trickery will not only will take the debates in this camp to a higher level of sophistication -- it will also lay the foundation for eloquent and persuasive communication that transcends debate to empower a range of discourse such as oral presentation/thesis defense, documentary film-making, Mock Trial, Model Congress, and Model United Nations.

The week will kick-off immediately with a competitive Debate tournament. However, after each round of competition, Debate 3.0 campers will move beyond the switch-side debate format - an important step that allows participants to understand and empathize with both polarized perspectives - but not the best means of negotiation and problem-solving, as evidenced by our notoriously ineffective U.S. Congress who struggle to move beyond competitive debate into a more sophisticated and productive discourse. After each debate round, 3.0 campers will engage in Democratic Discussion that will challenge our active citizens to move beyond the simplified, binary, this-OR-that perspective-taking of two-sided debate, toward a more dynamic and intellectually rigorous process -- one that will require combing through the issue’s nuanced layers and grey areas to find common ground instead of focusing on polarizing differences. Our 3.0 diplomats will discover that compromise, negotiation, and solutions typically originate within this highly evolved discourse. Debate Camp Founder and Director, Mike Jackson, has recently co-authored a description of this approach in action: Mr. Jackson’s switch-side debate/democratic discussion method is its own Chapter entitled “It’s Because They Have a Voice” in a Graduate-level textbook entitled, It’s Being Done in Social Studies! (Part II: Middle Level; Chapter 1)

Debate Camp 3.0 will culminate with a formal and festive Model Congress experience in the Plainsboro Recreation & Cultural Center. Small-group delegation teams representing different states will be judged not only on how well they compete to be the best problem-solvers but also how well they collaborate with other delegation teams to merge solutions and recruit support -- just like they are supposed to do in our U.S. Congress! Our young citizen-leaders will be solving problems related to current, red hot topics and addressing pressing questions such as, “How should our nation respond to the mounting Student Debt Crisis?” -- “How can the United State’s transition to Greener Energy Consumption while maintaining compassion for Americans reliant on the fossil fuel industry?” -- and/or -- “How should our Criminal Justice system be reformed?” Campers will have choice and democratic process will determine which Bills Congress prioritizes to debate on the Senate & House floors. Students will be placed into smaller subsets/committees of delegations based on their interests & preferences. The solutions our campers generate in this camp setting will NOT be artificial or hypothetical. They will be real solutions that could potentially evolve into a sponsored Bill proposal to the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. We expect local press and possibly wider-reaching media outlets to cover the important initiatives attempted by our active citizens-in-training. At Debate & Model Congress Camp 3.0, we strive to do nothing short of training Global Citizens, starting with empowering the future leaders of our U.S. democracy, eventually protecting democracy worldwide by way of restoring and preserving The United States’ status as “leader of the free world”, and ultimately saving the planet earth! We are training Super-Citizens to be nothing short of Democracy-Preserving Problem-Solving Bi-Partisan-Solution-Generating Super-Heroes!

Financial Assistance is not available.

Staff to camper ratio 1 to 6.