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Nothing but Pros for PLU’s 1st Community Debate Camp

Nothing but Pros for PLU’s 1st Community Debate Camp

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Students from the Puget Sound Region practice their debating skills at the Climb the Mountain Debate Camp at PLU. (Photo: John Struzenberg '16)

Image: Students from the Puget Sound Region practice their debating skills at the Climb the Mountain Debate Camp at PLU. (Photo: John Struzenberg ’16)

August 11, 2015

PLU Debate Season Starts Oct. 8

By Sandy Deneau Dunham
PLU Marketing & Communications

TACOMA, Wash. (Aug. 11, 2015)—Just weeks before its own academic season kicks off with a high-profile event, PLU’s TOH Karl Forensics Forum partnered with the local nonprofit Climb the Mountain to present the first annual Climb the Mountain Speech and Debate Camp at Pacific Lutheran University.

From Aug. 3-8, 15 members of the community joined 66 high-school and middle-school students— from state champions to first-timers from Thomas Jefferson, Puyallup High School and Mount Vernon —to participate in activities including Student Congress, Extemporaneous Speaking and Public Forum debate.

A parent of one Thomas Jefferson student reported: “Our son is on Cloud Nine about today. Can’t tell you how awesome it was for you to offer this experience.”

It was awesome for those who participated, too. PLU student Angie Tinker ’16, served as an instructor and said it was an opportunity to gain teaching experience and provide a valuable service to her community.

“It’s especially exciting knowing that these students will take this knowledge home with them and share the skills they’re learning in critical thinking and advocacy with their communities,” Tinker said.

Jim Hanson, director of Climb the Mountain, said the camp aligns with the TOH Karl Forensics Forum’s goal of promoting and supporting forensics in the Pacific Northwest.

“Pacific Lutheran University is a beautiful location for our camp, and Justin Eckstein, director of PLU Speech and Debate, and all of PLU have been helpful and gracious hosts,” Hanson remarked. “Our foundation is very appreciative of the work PLU is doing to build debate and public argument at PLU and in the community, and our camp is just another way in which he is helping the school and the larger community.”

PLU’s own academic debate season kicks off at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 with the third annual Ruth Anderson Public Debate, which pairs experts with debaters to discuss contemporary issues relevant to Pierce County. This year’s topic is Initiative 1, more commonly known as 15 Now, which, if adopted, would raise the county’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in January 2016. Debating in favor of the proposition is Vince Kueter from 15 Now Tacoma, the group that penned and petitioned for the initiative; opposing the resolution is Tom Pierson, President and CEO of the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce.

Founded in 1947, PLU’s debate team is one of the oldest and most-decorated forensics programs in the country, with a long history of intercollegiate competition. Regionally, nationally and internationally active, the program attends 10 tournaments per year and hosts two other annual events on PLU’s campus: the T.O.H. Karl High School Invitational and The Forensics Scholar Lecture.

The TOH Karl Forensics Forum will begin practice for the 2015-16 season on Sept. 2. Those interested in participating should contact Eckstein at