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Students ages 13+ can register for our overnight camp. RDI's Scholars Camp is a transformative 7-night camp experience, where students will reside in modern collegiate dorms, participate in our full day camp schedule, and enjoy our evening workshops.

Students can be excited to participate in: 

VCU School of Business

Sunday to Sunday, July 28th to August 4th 

7 Nights

1500  $1,400 complete room and board

*Topics Released in late June*

Speech & Debate Categories

Our campers must select a speech or debate specialization during our camp. For those with no experience in speech and debate, students can explore classes on the first day of camp to select their specialization.

Debate Categories: 

  • Lincoln Douglas Debate

  • Public Forum Debate

  • Congressional Debate

Speech Categories: 

  • Platform Events (e.g., Original Oratory, Informative Speaking)

  • Interpretation Events (e.g., Humorous Interpretation, Dramatic Interpretation, Duo Interpretation)

  • Extemporaneous Events (e.g., Foreign or Domestic Extemp., Impromptu)

To learn more about each event, check out the National Speech and Debate Association's (NSDA's) Event Guide

Financial Aid

Need-based financial aid is offered to students that attend a public high school in greater Richmond VA area, on the basis of recommendation by their school's speech and debate club teacher. Applications for financial aid can be found here. For more information about our financial aid, please reach out to

Additionally, camp tuition can be financed over a number of months to reduce the burden of one-time payments. Please email us for any additional questions. 


VCU Gladding Residence Center is a state of the art dorm facility, steps away from our camp classrooms, dining halls, and the university library. Students love the modern accommodations while participating in our full day camp program. 


Immerse yourself in the college experience at VCU. Students will walk to classrooms, dining halls, and Cabell library chaperoned by our staff at all times. VCU during the summer is a walkable downtown campus, that gives students a true collegiate experience. 


Richmond Debate Institute (RDI) fosters critical thinking and public speaking through competitive speech and debate. Our community of state champion coaches, PhD lecturers, and resident counselors make our camp an enriching and memorable summer experience. We are dedicated to making speech and debate an inclusive community, where students can make life long friends and express their curiosity.


Wake Up Call

Students are woken up for morning showers, breakfast, and team huddle before walking to class



Walk to Snead Hall

Commuter students join our residential students to begin their scheduled day of classes



Topic Analysis Lecture

Students hear from our PhD lecturers about complex debate topics to understand multiple angles of the resolution.



Research Lab

Work with lab leaders to conduct high quality research, and learn how to navigate evidence and briefs



Mock Debates

Respond to cross examination questions, and think on your feet!




Enjoy hot catered lunch inside the building, alongside all other debate peers.



Speaking Drills

Practice speaking exercises which enhance your articulation and clarity.



Intro to Case Writing Lecture

Learn how to draft a formal debate case using contentions, evidence, frameworks, and more.



Practice Rounds & Feedback

Perform in a full practice debate round against other students, and receive feedback from your instructors

2 -Hours


Walk to Shafer Dining Hall

Commuter students are picked up while residential Scholars walk to Shafer Dining Hall.


5:15 PM


Our resident scholars enjoy a team meal with their peers and RAs. Dinners are catered, and have clear labels for allergies and dietary restrictions.


6:15 PM

Evening Activities

Students enjoy our planned activities like movie nights, workshops at the VCU Library, office hours with instructors, games in the building lobby, college prep seminars, or lounging with friends!


9:15 PM

Quiet Hours

Students begin to prepare for the night by taking showers, and getting organized for the following day.


10:15 PM

Room Checks

Students are asked to stay in their rooms after RAs inspect all rooms.


Overnight Schedule


  • Will there be a housing monitors and assistant?
    Most definitely. RDI has live-in resident assistants (RAs) trained to VCU standards. We also have a live-in nurse for all student medical needs. VCU additionally has 24-hour staff and security present in the building lobby. Finally, senior administrators and instructors will remain at camp for all evening activities.
  • Is the dorm co-ed?
    The dorm building is separated into two wings; boys and girls will be staying in separate wings with separate bathrooms. Roommates will be assigned based on gender and age and we welcome roommate preferences. Our resident assistants will also be separated by gender during evening monitoring.
  • How do you handle children flying into Richmond?
    RDI staff members will pick up and drop off students from the Richmond International Airport. Parents are notified immediately upon their retrieval and departure. Additionally, we offer unaccompanied minor pass services for students that require them for airline compliance. All rides to and from the airport are covered by our camp tuition.
  • Will there be access to medical attention in the event of an emergency?
    We have a live-in nurse available at all times. Parents are notified in the event of a medical event, however minor (e.g., headaches, stomach pain, etc.) to confirm treatment. We reserve the right to take your child to the hospital in case of dire emergency. Masks are optional but mandated upon symptomatic cases at our discretion. All instructors are vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • How are meals planned for allergies and dietary restrictions?
    All meals have diverse options to accommodate for restrictions, and are labelled clearly to flag common allergenic ingredients. All meals are catered by VCU Dining, or by established restaurant chains. Many of our staff and students are vegetarian, so we always have delicious vegetarian options.
  • How is communication maintained with parents or guardians during the camp?
    Parents will receive updates via email about their child's participation, health, and growth and we encourage students to call their families every night. Parents will also have all contact information of the camp director, residential director, and camp nurse which will be in regular communication with parents.
  • Will there be any activities after debate programs?
    Absolutely! Some of our activities include a tour of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, workshops on college and career planning, gaming and movie nights held at the dorm lounge, an afternoon of podcasting, and exercise on the lawns of the dorms. The focus of the evenings will be for additional fun workshops and mastering student speeches.
  • What should students bring for camp?
    Students should bring clothes and toiletries to last them for the full 7-day camp. Students will have access to dorm laundry and kitchen. Below we created a recommended list of items for students to bring: Clothing: Students should bring comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing that they can wear for outdoor activities. This may include shorts, t-shirts, rain jackets, and walking shoes. We recommend packing at least one formal outfit for final speech presentations. Toiletries: Students should bring basic toiletries such as a hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, sunscreen, and deodorant. Bedding and Towels: Students should bring a pillow, bed sheets, and blankets suitable for a Twin XL bed. A foam topper is also recommended for added comfort. Students should bring at least one towel for showering. Water Bottle: Students should bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day. Backpack or Daypack: Students may want to bring a backpack or daypack to carry their belongings and snacks during activities. Personal Medication: If the student is taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication, they should bring enough to last the duration of the camp. Money: Students may want to bring some cash or a debit/credit card for souvenirs or extras that may not be covered by the camp. Writing Tools: Students should bring their pens, pencils, and notebooks for note taking. Laptop or Tablet: Students should bring a laptop or tablet for schoolwork or entertainment during downtime. Be sure to bring any necessary chargers or accessories. Books or Games: Students may want to bring books or games to enjoy during downtime.


My son absolutely loved the camp and the instructors! The evening instruction was invaluable.  He said getting to pick the brains of all the extremely smart instructors was wonderful, enjoyable and so helpful!  He loved your camp! Thank you!

- Parent, 2023

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