PEOPLE

Meet our Debate Camp family of leaders, instructors, program developers and real support people!

Debate Camp brings together teams of accomplished debate educators, led by career teachers and school leaders.  We are a highly-experienced group who very much love what we do!  NOW in 2021, available for a direct-to you, 1:4 and 1:6 teaching ratio ONLINE program.  Meet the team:

FOUNDING DIRECTOR - NICK SZYMANIS, Hon BA, B Ed, MA, OCT

Nick Szymanis is the founder and lead director of Debate Camp since 2002. He has been a career educator for 18 years, inclusive of academic leadership positions at Havergal College in Toronto (2005 - 2010), Crofton House School in Vancouver (2000 - 2005) and most recently as Director of Academics at the Sterling Hall School in Toronto (2010 - 2015). He has coached debating and hosted annual tournaments for the past 18 years and is the current Vice President of the International Independent Schools Public Speaking League. Nick has trained students towards worlds-level debate in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2017 and nationals level consistently since 2015. Nick, his wife Oona, and 2 sons, Noah and Aaron, live in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he currently coaches debating at Armbrae Academy and King's Edgehill School.

 

 

 

CAMP DIRECTOR - OONA CRAIG, BA, MA, OCT

Oona Craig has been a career educator for over 15 years; inclusive of Latin teaching positions with Collingwood School in Vancouver and Branksome Hall School in Toronto. Oona holds an MA in Classics from Dalhousie University, BA from McGill and is an Ontario Certified Teacher, with her B Ed from The University of Toronto. Oona is highly experienced in camp life and has been in the company of Debate Camp since our founding in 2002.  Our son Noah has attended camp since 2012.  In 2019, Oona directed our King City and Nova Scotia Overnight Debate Camps. 

PROGRAM COORDINATOR - SARAH ZAITLIN

Sarah Zaitlin is in her second year at Carleton University in Ottawa, where she studies Criminology and Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law. Sarah is an avid member of her university debate club, serving this year as Vice-President Internal and a member of the Tournament Selection Committee. As a debater, Sarah is active in the university circuit, having broken to elimination rounds at several tournaments in both the novice and open categories. This is Sarah’s third year working with Debate Camp, having taught in four Western Canadian cities in 2019. She is excited to meet new campers and to see our debate program continue to develop in the new digital landscape.   In 2021, Sarah will coordinate our in-person program at our locations across the Northeastern United States.

PROGRAM COORDINATOR - JARREN FEFER

Jarren Fefer is in his third year at McGill University, where he majors in Psychology. A former Provincial Champion, Jarren has debated in competitions across the country and the world, and was ranked Top Speaker at the Heart of Europe Debate Championship. Jarren served as the Vice-President of his College’s debate club, before being invited to join the McGill Mock Trial team in University. For four years, he has consistently coached his high school debaters to Nationals. Jarren has worked at Debate Camp for three years, and is currently overseeing the launch of our new online program. He loves helping our more shy campers discover that they too can have strong voices. In 2021, Jarren will coordinate our in-person program at our locations across Eastern Canada.

PROGRAM DEVELOPER - KEVIN JAGER, BSc, B Ed

Kevin Jager has been an educator for over 15 years with teaching experience in Ontario, India and Nova Scotia. He is currently teaching at Armbrae Academy in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Kevin holds a Masters in Development Economics from Dalhousie University, a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Toronto, and is an Ontario Certified Teacher with his B Ed from the University of Toronto. In 2019 Kevin directed our Boston Debate Camps. In 2020 and 2021 Kevin leads us in the development of staff training modules for all online and in-person camps.

 

PROGRAM DEVELOPER - ALTHEA BENLOSS, BA, MA

Althea Benloss graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2017, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Inclusive Education & Teaching Children with Disabilities. She is currently a 4th grade Teacher in New York City. Althea brought her debate skills, gained during High School and College, to her Elementary School where she was appointed the Debate Coach for the school’s first-ever Debate Team. She worked with Debate Camp as an online instructor in the Summer of 2020 and is now assisting with Teacher Development.

DIRECTOR UNITED STATES - KELSEY SCHOTT, BA

Kelsey Schott is a graduate student at Ball State University where she is completing her MA in Communication Studies. At BSU, Kelsey coaches parliamentary and NEDA debate and teaches public speaking. Prior to starting her master’s program, Kelsey was the Debate in Residence at Eastbourne College in the UK where she coached debate, taught public speaking, and ran the MUN program. Kelsey completed her undergraduate education at Simpson College with degrees in Political Science and Religious Studies. Simpson College was the 2016 and 2018 Pi Kappa Delta national champion debate team while Kelsey was a parliamentary debater. She is very excited for her first summer with Debate Camp! 

 

DIRECTOR UNITED KINGDOM - HEATHER ROBINSON, B Sc

Heather Robinson has completed her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from King's College London, in England. Heather was previously a debate mentor with Debatemate for two years, where she taught debate skills in local areas which had high rates of child poverty. During this time, Heather developed and conducted workshops for groups of up to 25 children. Heather has been debating competitively for over seven years, and has reached over 10 different semi-finals or finals, including the final of the 2019 World Open Championships and the finals of the Oxford Women's Open in 2017 and 2018. 

 

 

DIRECTOR INTERNATIONAL - THOMAS TANG, MBA

Thomas Tang has been a youth leadership and resilience coach for over 15 years. He obtained his MBA from Ivery Business School (Western University) in London, Ontario. Thomas also studies, practices, and teaches the eastern philosophies of Tai Chi (he is a gold medalist from the Chin Woo Tournament, 2011) with its correlation to modern sports psychology, neuroscience, and with a high performance mindset. Thomas presents keynotes speeches and workshops in Asia and North America. He works with corporate executives, entrepreneurs, student leaders and sports coaches. Thomas joined Debate Camp in June 2020 as International Director.  He is currently living in Oakville with his wife and two sons who are passionately learning debating, figure skating and wrestling.

SITE DIRECTOR - GRIFFEN DAOUST, BAH, MA, OCT

Griffen Daoust is an Ontario Certified Teacher who has been teaching in The York Junior School in Toronto, Ontario for the past 3 years. Prior to, he received his BAH in Sociology at Queen's University, then went onto receive his MA in Child Study and Education at The University of Toronto (OISE). Griffen has had 10+ years of camp experience in both overnight and day camp settings. He has directed Debate Camps in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. In 2021, Griffen will again lead our teams in Montreal and Ottawa.

 

SITE DIRECTOR - PAIGE DAOUST, BA, MA, OCT

Paige Daoust is an Ontario Certified teacher, who holds a Master of Science in Education degree from Niagara University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Dalhousie University. For the past 6 years, she has been teaching Grades 5 and 6 at Rotherglen School, Pickering College, and abroad in London, England. Paige has had over 14 years of camp experience, with serval years in program coordinator and camp directing roles.  In 2018 and 2019 Paige directed camps throughout the Toronto region, and will once again lead our teams in Toronto for 2021. 

DEBATE CAMP COMPLIANCE 

COMPLIANCE OFFICER - CHRIS ABRAHAM, B Sc

Chris Abraham has nine years of experience debating, coaching debate and working for Debate Camp. He started debating in high school and was a competitive debater for six years. While attending Dalhousie University he won the 2018 Atlantic Canadian Debate Championships, where he was also the top speaker. He graduated from Dal in 2018, earning a BSc with majors in Chemistry and Philosophy. Chris has worked with Debate Camp since 2017. He has worked at camps as a Program Staff member and Intern Coordinator. Since 2018 he has worked at our office as a Compliance Officer, focusing most recently on meeting the accreditation requirements of the Canadian and American Camping Associations. 

OUR TEAM OF DEBATE CAMP INSTRUCTORS 

Ready to Inspire! These highly qualified young people, many of whom have worked with us in several summers and / or graduated from our programs in the not-so-distant past are now joining us online for 2021.  All have been privy to the development of some outstanding teaching resources and program tools and are trained and eager for work with you in our educational setting - direct to you!  For individual bios - scroll over each to learn more:

SAFE GUARDING:  All Debate Camp Staff are bound by and annually trained according to Debate Camp Best Practices for Work with Youth Guidelines (informed from American and Canadian Camping Association criterion for staff training and youth protection). 

  • 4 years of competitive debate experience

  • works with youth through a variety of avenues, including serving as a co-president of high school debating society and coordinating a one-on-one mentorship program

  • fun fact: avidly watch mountaineering documentaries and plan on organizing a mountaineering trip in university!

Anna Ma

  • Studies International Development at McGill University

  • 8 years of public speech & debate experience

  • Two-time Vancouver Debate Champion

  • Fun fact: also loves slam poetry! 

Catherine Wang

  • started debating at 12 years old

  • has been to almost all of the provinces for debating

  • is the reigning spikeball champion at the Halifax overnight camp

Eamon Roach

  • 7 years competitive debate experience

  • competed in the International Independent Schools Public Speaking Championships 3 times 

  • was a camper at Debate Camp for 3 years, and interned last year

  • fun fact: is also a competitive dancer 

Irina Znamirowski

  • Studying Architecture at McGill University

  • Former Vice President of Finance of the Marianopolis Debate Society 

  • 7 years competitive debate experience 

  • Novice Champion at the 2019 British Parliamentary Championships

Lauren Kim

  • currently a law student at Queen's Faculty of Law with an interest in commercial litigation

  • has taught at, and coordinated over 30 debate camps across North America

  • has coached a school team to a Provincial championship and a National semi finals

  • has competed at the World Championships and has been in National finals rounds several times.

  • fun fact: is a competitive distance runner and triathlete.

Nick Morrow

  • fourth year with Debate Camp

  • served as the 176th President of the Queen's Debating Union, the oldest debate society in Canada

  • has attended the World Universities Debating Championship twice, once in South Africa and again in Thailand

  • is currently completing his Bachelors of Arts (Hons) in Philosophy at Queen's University and will begin his Masters of Arts there in September

Patrick Cowley

  • member of Team Canada 2018, debated at Worlds in Croatia

  • loves debating IR, Social Justice, and Media motions

  • 5th year coaching debate 

  • fun fact: loves playing basketball, acting in musicals, and playing video games

Anwyn Diakuw

  • first-year university student at Stanford University

  • involved in speech and debate for 5 years in high school and in university

  • fourth year working with Debate Camp and former camper

  • competed at Nationals numerous times for Speech and Debate in high school; finalist & semi-finalist at numerous North American tournaments, including Champion at Berkeley Intervarsity and Novice Finalist at Yale Intervarsity this past year

Cecilia Xia

  • has competed in public speaking internationals in both Toronto and Boston

  • has been to both senior and junior high school debating nationals

  • last summer, was an intern at Debate Camp and previously went to Debate Camp as a camper

  • fun fact: plays many instruments, including the violin, bass, and bagpipes.

Grace Gallant

  • First-year STRIDE student at Smith College

  • My debate experience includes: three years of competitive (including tournaments) World Schools debate, three years of competitive Policy CX debate, one year of competitive Ethics Bowl, one summer of Debate Camp as a camper, two summers of Debate Camp as a staff, and half a year of competitive APDA experience (and counting!)

  • My favorite thing about teaching at Debate Camp is the campers! Somehow, Debate Camp lucks out and gets the most wonderful, enthusiastic, and genuinely curious campers.

Kaila Frazer

  • 1st year student at UBC studying political science

  • 6 years of international debate experience 

  • Enjoys hearing kids stories and watching them make strides in public speaking 

Maja Grandinetti

  • former Vice President, RHHS Debate Club

  • champion of McGill Central Novice Debate Championships and McGill Winter Carnival Debate Championships

  • resident DCC chess champion

  • student at UofT Faculty of Music

Nikhil James

  • has competed in five different formats of debate over the past six years

  • is the current President of the McGill Debating Union

  • has worked at debate camp for two summers

  • studies Computer Science and Political Science

Ruth Silcoff

  • studying International Economics at Western University

  • 4 years of competitive debate experience

  • placed in the Top 10 speakers at Nationals this year

  • fun fact: has a collection of pressed pennies from over 12 countries!

Carol Guo

  • second year student at Dartmouth College studying International relations, Climate Science

  • leads the Dartmouth Model UN team 

  • third year working at Debate Camp Canada

  • Debate has played a massive role in her life - all the way back to grade 7 when she began competing on her school’s debate team.

Chantal Elias

  • coaches Model UN and runs the public speaking club, TED Education

  • has broken and placed as top 5 individual speakers at major tournaments, such as the Queen’s National Championships and McGill British Parliamentary Championships

  • won and 1st spoke McGill Bonanza

  • worked with Debate Camp for over a year

  • studying international development at McGill next year

Hannah Zhao

  • studies Philosophy at McGill University

  • has debated in Thailand, Czech Republic, United States, and Canada

  • won Top Novice Speaker at the North American Debate Championships

  • loves volleyball, soccer and sailing

Kiran Basra

  • has been debating for seven years, and has been all across Canada to compete

  • now debates with Queen's Debating Union at Queen's University

  • also plays the bassoon!

Myles Fox

  • her fifth year debating

  • has debated on the university circuit this year with the same partner she went to her first high school tournament with

  • fun fact: also coaches figure skating and have been skating for fourteen years

Olivia Anderson

  • competed at Nationals in Nova Scotia

  • fourth year working at Debate Camp, after many years as a camper

  • fun fact: one of her hobbies is bouldering at the local climbing gym

Samantha Lin

A REAL OFFICE - WITH REAL PEOPLE TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS 

For any of your technical support questions or for more information about any of our programs - meet the team at the other end of our many emails and real phones.

OFFICE MANAGER - MAGDALENA RUDZ, BMgmt, MHA 

Magdalena Rudz is currently completing her Master of Health Administration at Dalhousie University. While not experienced in debating, she possesses strong technical skills, taking the lead on tech support for both Debate Camp and Latin Camp. With an undergrad in business management from Dalhousie University, Magdalena also provides strategic support to both camps. 

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LOGISTICS MANAGER - CLAIRE MERCER

Claire Mercer has completed her second year at Dalhousie University, where she studies Political Science and History. She is currently the secretary of the Dalhousie Undergraduate Political Science Society. Claire supports Debate Camp through providing additional tech support and coordinates much of the logistics for the camp, including camp groups, certificates, and payroll!

DEBATE CAMP LEADERSHIP 
DEBATE CAMP PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT 
DEBATE CAMP INTERNATIONAL 
DEBATE CAMP CANADA 
DEBATE CAMP TEACHER DEVELOPMENT 
DEBATE CAMP PROGRAM STAFF 2021 
DEBATE CAMP OFFICE TEAM 2021 
OUR PEOPLE

PROGRAM STAFF, PROGRAM LEADERS AND INTERNS

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