The Value Criterion Academy

The Value Criterion Academy exists to innovate debate. Our training is all online.
Consistent with our mission, VC Academy guarantees the best instruction at the best price.
To be a champion, learn from champions.
 

 
What's wrong with traditional debate camps?
We believe it’s simple – Cost, Convenience, and Quality. First, you're asked to pay too much for what you're getting. Many of your expenses, like housing, meals, and airfare, are not directly related to your debate education. Some of these aren't even included in your expensive tuition.
Second, you may want to be taught by the very best instructors, but camps can't guarantee you’ll be assigned them. For the topics you are most interested in learning, say philosophy debate, you'll likely only get piecemeal answers over the course of camp rather than a distilled and efficient course of study. Finally, you'll likely find that your instructors haven't prepared any actual learning materials. Instructors often tell students to "go write cases" without giving them the tools to do so and don't give proper feedback.
As former debaters and coaches, we've designed the Academy to address these problems and provide a high-quality, fast-paced learning experience for students. We are a group of experienced instructors whose goal is to help you become a better debater. Check out our programs now!
seminar room.jpg
Why join our Academy?
  1. Premier Instructors. We just have access to the best instructors, especially because we aren't constrained by geography.
  2. Tailored Curriculum. We don't just deliver material; every part of our program is designed to make sure you truly master it.
  3. Convenience and cost. We don't want you to pay for transport, lodging, or other debate camp frills. 

Our Programs

We offer intensive, focused courses designed to help you master a specific and essential debate skill. To ensure this, all our programs feature:
- Interactive webinars with premier instructors
- Special course materials and evaluation metrics
- Regular, individualized and in-depth feedback
- One-on-one personal coaching
Seats are always limited to ensure highest-quality instruction. Get the training you need – sign up for available seminars now!
    daniel teaching pic 2.jpg
    How it works
    You'll begin with one of your regular classes with a premier instructor, who will answer your and your peers' questions about an essential topic and tell you what you need to know, all from the comfort of your own home. These are group classes, so we guarantee you will learn from the very best instructors. Each class is then followed by homework assignments designed to guide you through the material. You'll receive individualized feedback on each piece of your work. Instructors will be reachable before, during, and after class should you have questions. Finally, if you opt for a drill package, you'll schedule one-on-one sessions throughout the program to practice your new skills with targeted drills. The class is fast-paced but tells you exactly what you need to know – in just a short amount of time, you'll have mastered a new debate skill!
    Have to miss a class? Not to worry! All our classes are also recorded should you need it.

    VC Academy Scholarship
    Consistent with our mission, we want to make our programs accessible to all students, regardless of background. Both need-based and merit-based scholarships are available, especially for small schools. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in our scholarship program!

    Summer Bootcamps
    We run several camps so that you can pick the session most convenient for you.
    This means you can attend multiple camps along with your other summer commitments!
    Please email us if you are interested in our small schools discounts! 
    Sign up before May 1st for 10% off (VCSUMMER), and check out even more discounts below.
     

    Philosophy Bootcamp

    Dates: Choose either July 3-7 or July 17-21

    An overview of key philosophical arguments used in Lincoln Douglas debate and a primer on how to use and refute them effectively. Emphasizes strategic framework debate. Topics covered include: The function of philosophical frameworks in Lincoln Douglas debate, The Classics: Utilitarianism and Deontology, Strategic framework writing and refutation, Framework weighing and contention-level interactions, Beyond the Classics: Rawls, Scanlon, Gauthier, and others, Advanced topics: Meta-ethics, preclusion, and argument analysis.

    Theory Bootcamp

    Dates: Choose either July 3-7 or July 24-28 

    A detailed introduction to “debate about debate.” Focuses on efficient strategies to defend yourself against theory and use theory to exclude illegitimate arguments. Introduces more advanced arguments, including topicality and meta-theory. Situates theory in relation to frameworks and Kritiks. Topics covered include: The function and structure of theory in Lincoln Douglas debate, Efficient and strategic theory refutation, Understanding and defeating theory tricks, Voting issues, weighing, and theory “frameworks”, Advanced topics: Topicality, meta-theory, and the role of the ballot.

    Policy Arguments Bootcamp

    Dates: Choose either July 10-14 or July 31-August 4

    Never again will you be intimidated by policy arguments in debate after this primer on plans, counterplans, disadvantages, and kritiks. The sessions focus on teaching students how to strategically apply and refute these arguments in debates. Topics covered include: Comparing advocacies: A framework for understanding policy-style arguments, Plans: Structure and strategy, Counterplans: Competition, net benefits, and advanced strategies, Disadvantages: Structure and strategy with a focus on “uniqueness”, Kritiks: Structure and strategy with a focus on the “role of the ballot."

    Technical Skills Bootcamp

    Dates: Choose either July 10-14 or July 24-28

    A program to help students transition to National Circuit debate. Teaches students how to deal with opponents who spread and who employ unfamiliar arguments. Reinforces core debate skills that are crucial both on and off the National Circuit. Topics covered include: Spreading, efficiency, and word economy, Debating against unfamiliar arguments and dealing with tricks, Crystallizing messy debates, Using cross-examination strategically, Mastering the 1AR, Other topics as requested by participating students.

    Refutation Bootcamp

    Dates: Choose either June 26-30 or July 31-August 4

    Builds core skills to understand and systematically attack opposing arguments. An emphasis on application, with examples drawn from policy arguments, current events, and philosophy. Topics covered include: Mastering argument structure, Attacking the link and the impact, Effectively comparing evidence, Understanding and controlling uniqueness, Efficient and strategic weighing, Mastering persuasion and style.

    September/October Prep Bootcamp

    Dates: Choose either August 7-11 or August 14-18

    A weeklong bootcamp to prepare for the September/October topic. Includes a detailed topic analysis, a topic-specific lecture on how to conduct effective research, a primer on case strategy, and simulations to understand how different kinds of topic arguments fit together. All students will receive a set of topic-specific files produced during the course. Topics covered include: Detailed topic analysis, Finding the best September/October topic research, Improving case strategy on the topic, Simulating potential end-game scenarios.

    Coaches' Seminar

    Dates: Choose either July 17-21 or August 7-11

    A weeklong program on effective coaching strategies. Helpful for new and experienced coaches alike. Discusses insights for what works and what doesn’t for different kinds of students from years of camp and season coaching experience. Intended as a supplement to our other programs, for which coaches are welcome (class times slightly modified). Topics covered include: Best practices for organizing your team, Coordinating team preparation, Delivering effective lectures, Testing for understanding and mastery, Designing drills, Coaching at tournaments, Other topics as requested by coaches.

     

     
    Bootcamps Overview

    Every week this summer we are running bootcamps to help you master essential debate skills. Each session runs 7:30-9:30PM EST (4:30-6:30PM PST). Here's our summer calendar – to maximize your learning, we recommend that you do multiple camps!

    VC Academy Summer Calendar

    Jun 26-30: Refutation Bootcamp
    Jul 3-7: Theory Bootcamp & Philosophy Bootcamp
    Jul 10-14: Policy Arguments Bootcamp & Technical Skills Bootcamp
    Jul 17-21: Philosophy Bootcamp (& Coaches' Seminar)
    Jul 24-28: Theory Bootcamp & Technical Skills Bootcamp
    Jul 31-Aug 4: Policy Arguments Bootcamp & Refutation Bootcamp
    Aug 7-11: September/October Prep Bootcamp (& Coaches' Seminar)

    Questions about our programs? Please don't hesitate to get in touch with us! Please also review our cancellation policy. Date/time availability dependent on demand; will reach out in advance if needed.

    Bootcamps Discounts

    For our most committed students, we’d also love to offer some significant discounts! All offers are combinable. Sign up before May 1st to get 10% off (VCSUMMER). Please email us if you are interested in our small schools discounts! 

    1. Bootcamper Discount: For those interested in multiple topics...

    • Sign up for 2 bootcamps and get 10% off everything
    • Sign up for 3 bootcamps and get 15% off everything
    • Sign up for 4 or more and get 20% off everything

    2. Referral Discount: If you think our Academy is a great way to learn about debate, refer your friends and teammates! For each program someone you refer signs up for, we’ll take another 10% off one of your bootcamps, up to 100%. All program discounts applied after checkout.

    3. Master Toolbox Discount: When you sign up for any program, grab our popular Theory and Philosophy Master Toolbox files with up to 40% off! Just add it to your registration and files will be delivered shortly.

     

     


    To be a champion, learn from champions.

    Our Instructors

    Our staff are the very best at Lincoln-Douglas debate, and more importantly, the very best at teaching you how to win at it. Because of our online training system, we can afford to bring in the instructors that would be among the top at any camp and guarantee you will work with them.

    Danny DeBois
    (Harvard College '18)
    VC Academy, Instructor

    Danny Debois is the winner of the 2014 Tournament of Champions, as well as the champion of Harvard (x2), the Glenbrooks, the Minneapple, and NCFL Grand Nationals. He is now an assistant coach at Harvard-Westlake.

    Annie Kors (Yale College '18) VC Academy, Instructor Bio forthcoming.

    Annie Kors
    (Yale College '18)
    VC Academy, Instructor

    Bio forthcoming.

    Nick Steele
    (Stanford University '17)
    VC Academy, Instructor

    Nick Steele is a current assistant coach at Harvard Westlake and the 2016 TOC Champion. He attended the TOC three years in a row, and won and/or reached late elimination rounds at every major national tournament. He coaches multiple TOC qualified students including the champion of the Glenbrooks. He now attends Stanford University. Areas of expertise: Critiques and Policy arguments.

     

    Cameron Cohen
    (Harvard College '20)
    VC Academy, Instructor

    Cameron Cohen is a finalist at the NDCA National Championship and a Tournament of Champions semifinalist. He championed Greenhill, Loyola, and the Kandi King Round Robin and was top speaker of the Minneapple, Meadows, and the Cal Round Robin. He is currently the coach of 7 debaters qualified to the TOC.

     

    Daniel Tartakovsky
    (Harvard College '17)
    VC Academy, Director

    As an assistant coach at Harvard-Westlake School, Daniel coached the winner of the 2016 Tournament of Champions (TOC) and helped others qualify and reach elimination rounds at the TOC and other major national competitions. As a Curriculum Director and debate instructor at the Victory Briefs Institute, he helped design a curriculum for over 500 students and oversaw younger staff members. As a high school debater, Daniel debated in TOC elimination rounds three times, reaching semifinals his senior year. He won Harvard, Greenhill, USC, and the Greenhill Round Robin and was runner-up at MBA and the Glenbrooks. This spring, Daniel will graduate from Harvard College with an A.B. in Economics and a minor in History.

    Henry Zhang (Yale College '17) VC Academy, Director Henry Zhang is the coach of the 2014 Tournament of Champions winner, as well as a TOC semifinalist. He was the champion of Stanford and the Minneapple and the top speaker of Greenhill and Bronx. He is also the President Emeritus of the Yale Debate Association and the former Director of the Yale Summer Debate Program.

    Henry Zhang
    (Yale College '17)
    VC Academy, Director

    Henry Zhang is the coach of the 2014 Tournament of Champions winner, as well as a TOC semifinalist. He was the champion of Stanford and the Minneapple and the top speaker of Greenhill and Bronx. He is also the President Emeritus of the Yale Debate Association and the former Director of the Yale Summer Debate Program.