UPDATE! Due to Covid-19, all summer sessions are available as synchronous  online programs. No on-campus summer programs are scheduled for 2022.
DO NOT USE THIS SITE! Of course, there is information that might give perspective on programming and one may review it but PLEASE USE INFORMATION FOR SUMMER 2021 ONLINE PROGRAMS AT


Online programs will still include middle school and high school debate, middle school scholars, and high school leadership communication programs. Online dates will differ from on-campus programs.
• 2020 Parent Guide and Student Academic Prep Guide
Distributed at the time of registration confirmation.
• 2020 Program Deadlines
Tuesday, June 9 for all programs beginning on or after July 13
• Application Confirmations
Within 3 weeks of application arrival. If you do not receive your confirmation by then, please email John Meany, john.meany@cmc.edu. Please include “Missing confirmation” in the subject line of the email.
Middle School Debate, Session 2
July 7-12
Middle School Scholars-Leadership & Professional Communication, Session 2
July 21-24
Middle School Debate, Session 3 (SuperSession, including tournament)
July 24-31
High School Debate
July 13-20

Students may attend any or all programs for their age group • Students may commute or stay on campus in residential facilities exclusively organized for the summer debate and leadership communication programs • All programs are appropriate for new and experienced students • Several programs are scheduled so that students may participate conveniently in more than program – scholars programs are just before middle school debate sessions 1 & 3.

About the Debate Programs

Debate instruction is in the Public Debate Program (PDP) format. The 3-on-3 debate format/curriculum is one of the most popular designs for debate and public speaking training in the world, with more than 800,000 teachers and students in 36 countries involved annually. PDP debate instruction is relevant to any and all debate formats and PDP students have won US high school debate championships in policy and Lincoln-Douglas debating and enjoyed success in Public Forum, CHSSA Parliamentary, World Schools, and varied other formats.

About the Scholars/Leadership Communication Programs

Programming creates opportunities for oral- and written-intensive practice in academic and professional communication and leadership management settings. Middle school students will learn effective public speaking, discussion, and multimedia presentation techniques. High school students will learn those, as well as engage in project management for a club/organization, digital and social media marketing, and an academic conference (opportunities for awards for competitive conference papers and presentations).

The program will feature lectures and support on essay writing from the staff of Claremont McKenna’s Center for Writing and Public Discourse.


Application Deadline – For programs beginning before July 13 
Tuesday, May 12

Application Deadline – For programs beginning on or after July 13 
Tuesday, June 9

FOR APPLICANTS AWAITING CONFIRMATION – There are hundreds of applicants for Summer 2020 programs. Applications are processed as quickly as possible. If you are concerned that your application has not been received, please contact John Meany, john.meany@cmc.edu, with a subject including “Missing confirmation.” Because of the volume of applications and other programming, it takes approximately 2-3 weeks to process an application.

Questions about Claremont Summer?

Please review the online information. It answers most questions. If necessary, please email John Meany, john.meany@cmc.edu. Please include “CDLI” in the subject line (CDLI – Claremont Debate and Leadership/Professional Communication Institutes). It is difficult to reach Debate Union staff by phone at this time, due to national and international debate travel. It is possible to email and schedule a phone appointment.

General information

Claremont Summer provides debate training for middle school and high school students, as well as leadership and professional communication instruction for high school students. The summer program is administered by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, centered at Claremont McKenna College.

John Meany, the Director of Forensics at Claremont McKenna College and Director of the Public Debate Program and Claremont Summer, created the national debate formats used at the summer programs. These include the Middle School Public Debate Program and High School Public Debate Program. He also created the California High School Speech Association Parliamentary Debate and World Parliamentary Debate formats.  The leadership and professional communication program is based on his curricular materials, workshops, and events for higher education institutions, non-profit organizations, and businesses.

The Debate Union offers annual educational outreach programming – public speaking, debate, argumentation, leadership/professional communication for more than 800,000 teachers and student in 34 countries. Claremont Summer students receive age-appropriate training in the best practices integrated in higher education institutions, educational non-profit organizations, and government agencies.

Debate programming includes basic and advanced public speaking, argumentation, and refutation skill development. Leadership communication training features techniques for success in extemporaneous speaking, roundtable discussion,  multimedia presentation (PowerPoint/Prezi), social networking, interviewing, and team/group management. Students learn debating skills that would help them succeed in other debate formats (former students have been extraordinarily successful in multiple debate formats, including policy, LD, Public Forum, and various parliamentary debate models); leadership students develop skills that can apply to classroom work, internships, and extracurricular activities (Model United Nations, Mock Trial and Moot Court, etc.)

2020 Sessions

This is the 21st year of summer debate and leadership communication programming at Claremont. Programming accommodates new practitioners and highly experienced and proficient students. There are 5 middle school sessions and 2 high school sessions. Students may attend one or more than one session. There are new and experienced students at all sessions.

Daily life

Claremont Summer programming is a leader in innovative workshop teaching methods and performance assessment. Instruction is in small group, elective, open forum, and practice sessions. Students may choose to live in secure dormitories, exclusively reserved for Claremont Summer students (no shared facilities with other college summer programs). Students may also commute to the college for their program. Daily instruction is 9:00-5:00 PM (exceptions for the first and last day for each program – explained in detail on the Campus Life page) but there are optional instruction sessions and recreational events in the evening, Commuting students are welcome to stay until 8:50 PM each day and families may coordinate schedules to set a personalized pick-up time between 5:00-8:50 PM.

There is a 4-1 student-faculty ratio. A portion of each day is devoted to individual and elective work – each student has the opportunity to engage with faculty with specific requests for information and practice to ensure that lessons are understood and can be effectively applied. Certified trainers and judges lead practice and performance critiques.

Programming is rigorous but it is also fun. There is free time and organized recreation each day – smoothie and ice cream socials, games, hikes, etc. Dormitory lounges are available for card and board games. The workshops provide snacks and beverages for all participants at no charge in dormitory lounges throughout the day. Staff is available for supplemental debate and leadership work and practice during all recreational time.

Summer learning for academic year programming

Students may participate in league debating in the Public Debate Program (PDP), Claremont’s proprietary debate model, one of the largest and fastest growing debating formats in the world. League debating in the Youth, Middle School, and High School Public Debate Program is available; Claremont Summer staff will also assist in developing a PDP program at schools without one.

Leadership students have the opportunity to join Claremont’s Civics in Action (CivAc) program – a social, political, and leadership advocacy initiative administered during the academic year. CivAc promotes informed discussion, innovative ideas, and workable, sustainable educational and community policies. For example, 2015 CivicAc students were invited to participate in a Conference on Nuclear Politics, held in February 2016 (leadership communication.center).

Summer debate tournaments

Claremont Summer integrates a summer championship tournament in the Middle School Debate Supersession (Session 3).

More than 400 attendees have filled the available space for Claremont Summer programming for several years. Please apply by the deadline to reserve space this summer!

Value-added programming

Claremont Summer includes supplemental writing consulting to assist students with school, college application, and other essays. Claremont McKenna College’s Center for Writing and Public Discourse staff and writing consultants support student writing skill development. In addition, college admission officers make presentations to high school student groups to assist with the college application process.


IMPORTANT DEPARTURE INFORMATION! The first listed date is the arrival date and the last listed program date is the final departure day. There is limited academic and orientation programming on the arrival day and NO instruction on the final day, the last listed program date. In fact, the last listed date for a session is a secondary departure day. Academic programming ends on the second to last date of a program and the PRIMARY DEPARTURE TIME is that evening. 

For example, for the middle school program from June 12-17, arrival is June 12, 12:00-2:00 PM and the primary departure is June 16, 5:00-8:50 PM. All commuter students officially check-out at this time. There are a few residential students unable to depart on the second to last date, usually due to airline schedules. Those students are welcome to stay until the following morning. Final Departure for any remaining student is by 10:00 AM on the last listed date, in this case, June 17.

If a student needs to stay until the last listed date for a session, please contact John Meany, john.meany@cmc.edu, at least 1 week prior to the departure date.

Check the About page for information about Claremont Summer, the Public Debate Program, Civics in Action and other leadership programs for secondary school students, the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont Colleges.

Please review the Programs page for more details on this year’s options.

5 Comments on “WELCOME

  1. John Meany is a living, breathing national treasure. If it were not for him, I would never have developed the confidence to advance my skills in debating and become the adult that I became. He is a remarkable human being, instructor and one of the finest academicians I have ever known. It was my humble privilege to have known him. Anyone who has the opportunity to study with Prof. Meany should afford themselves of the rare opportunity to study with the Mozart of rhetoric, speech and debate of our age.

  2. The program is sponsored by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, an official program of Claremont McKenna College. It is directed by John Meany, the Director of Forensics at Claremont McKenna College and the administrator of the Claremont Colleges Debate Union (an undergraduate debate, professional communication, and educational outreach organization for students attending any of the five undergraduate institutions of the Claremont Consortium).

  3. Yes, residency is available. There are students from many states, as well as a number of international students. All information regarding the program and residency is available online at claremontsummer.org.

  4. The middle school sessions use the Middle School Public Debate Program format, a proprietary model created at Claremont specifically for middle school students. It is researched-based and involves serious argumentation, so the summer program is helpful for students involved in other debate formats, including policy debate and Lincoln-Douglas debate. In fact, our textbooks supporting the Middle School Public Debate Program and High School Public Debate Program formats were reviewed by leaders in policy and Lincoln-Douglas debating as the best texts for their respective events. Students participating in the middle school program have achieved immediate success in high school Lincoln-Douglas (and other debate and speech) competition; the debate programming clearly facilitates success in other forensic events.

    The middle school and high school public debate models are standards-based and designed to maximize student learning outcomes. Although theses formats certainly provide rigorous debating training for any and all academic interscholastic competitions, the models are developed to encourage the acquisition of sophisticated professional communication skills – public speaking, argumentation, organization, note taking, team building, and refutation skills – that students will take with them beyond debate competition for use for future academic and professional success. During summer institute instruction, students learn how specific elements of the Public Debate Program formats facilitate interviewing, social professional, roundtable discussion, extemporaneous speaking, and other communication skills.

  5. Class size for the primary instructional sessions is 6-7. The student-faculty ratio is 4-1.

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