Harvard-Westlake Debate Camp


Harvard-Westlake School's International Summer Debate Program

Harvard-Westlake Summer Debate is dedicated to providing access to a superior debate program for students in grades 5 -12.  Since the program began in 2015, hundreds of campers have attended each summer.  Our leadership team has numerous years of experience in summer debate camps as well as debate programs in both middle and high schools. 

All debate programs occur on the Harvard-Westlake Upper School Campus, 3700 Coldwater Canyon, Studio City, CA.


debateLA is the only one summer debate program that you can attend next summer that features the coaches of of the 2015 & 2016 Tournament of Champions winners in Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Registration and boarding information can be found on the Harvard-Westlake Summer Programs page.

Dates & Programs

June 12-June 23 (2-week program)

For experienced LD Debaters who want to expand their debate experience, this two-week program focuses exclusively on Policy Debate, session 1 (June 12 - June 23, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM).

  • Policy for Experienced LD Debaters (Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm)

June 19-June 23 (1-week program)

Not sure if you are ready to commit to two weeks of intensive debate, try one of our one week programs.  Each session offers programs in Middle School Public Debate as well as Lincoln-Douglas Debate for beginners.  

  • Middle School Public Debate (Grades 5-8) (Mon-Fri 9:00am-3:00pm)
  • Beginning Lincoln-Douglas Debate (Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm)

June 26- June 30 (1-week program)

Not sure if you are ready to commit to two weeks of intensive debate, try one of our one week programs.  Each session offers programs in Middle School Public Debate as well as Lincoln-Douglas Debate for beginners.  

  • Middle School Public Debate (Grades 5-8) (Mon-Fri 9:00am-3:00pm)
  • Beginning Lincoln-Douglas Debate (Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm)

July 10-July 14 (1-week program)

Not sure if you are ready to commit to two weeks of intensive debate, try one of our one week programs.  Each session offers programs in Middle School Public Debate as well as Lincoln-Douglas Debate for beginners.  

  • Middle School Public Debate (Grades 5-8) (Mon-Fri 9:00am-3:00pm)
  • Beginning Lincoln-Douglas Debate (Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm)

July 17-28 (Flagship 2-week program with Residential available at UCLA)

Our two-week flagship program offers an intensive debate experience for campers of all levels.  Middle School Public Debate programs will be offered from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.  All other forms of debate (Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, and Beginning High School Debate) will be offered from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  

  • Middle School Public Debate (Grades 5-8) (Mon-Fri 9:00am-3:00pm)
  • Lincoln-Douglas Debate - All levels (Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm)
  • Policy Debate - Beginning/Intermediate (Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm)
  • World Schools Debate - Beginning/Intermediate (Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm)

Leadership & Faculty




Mike Bietz, Director


Mike Bietz is the head debate coach at Harvard-Westlake and is one of history's most successful debate coaches.  

Mr. Bietz has the distinction of being the only Lincoln-Douglas coach in history to have students win both the Tournament of Champions and NFL Nationals in the same season. He is one of only 3 coaches to ever coach two NFL National Champions and one of only 2 to do it at two different schools. He is one of a few to coach two TOC National Champions. In addition, he has coached 2 NFL Semifinalists, 3 TOC Semifinalists and 3 NDCA Semifinalists. 

Under his leadership since 2007, the Harvard-Westlake Debate Team has qualified 38 entries to the Tournament of Champions, won the Novice Nationals 7 times. These are unmatched by any other team. 

Beyond success at post-season National Championships, his debaters have closed-out (taking both first and second place) or won most major national invitationals including: Stanford University (win), The Greenhill Fall Classic (close-out and win), The Greenhill Round Robin (close-out), The Voices Round Robin (close-out), The Glenbrooks (close-out twice, Championship), The Mid-America Cup (3 wins, a close-out), The Holiday Classic at the Blake School (2 wins, 2 close-outs) and The Silver & Black Invitational at Alta HS. He has also coached finalists in the MBA Round Robin, The New York Invitational at Bronx Science, Emory University, and twice at Harvard University.

While coaching in Minnesota, he coached back-to-back State Championships in Lincoln-Douglas, 2 finalists, a semifinalists and a policy State Championship.

Aside from coaching success, Mr. Bietz is a trusted and longtime leader in the community. He has been a director of a summer debate institute at UCLA for 12 years. During this time over 5000 students have attended the institute. 10 NFL National Champions and 10 TOC Champions are alums of this program. He is a former President of the National Debate Coaches Association, a long-time member of the Tournament of Champions Advisory Committee, a winner of the Blake School Tournament Coach of the Year, The Bronx HS of Science Coaching Award and the Minnesota State High School League Debate Coach of the Year.


Greg Achten, Director & Head of Faculty

Greg Achten is a Co-Director of Debate at The Harker School. His students have won numerous tournaments in Lincoln-Douglas debate including the California Invitational at U.C. Berkeley and the National Debate Coaches Association National Championship. He has also had students receive top 5 speaker awards in both LD and policy at multiple national level tournaments.

Prior to joining Harker, Greg was the Director of Debate at U.C. Berkeley where he coached a Copeland Award winning team as well as a National Championship team. Before Berkeley, Greg was the Director of Debate at Pepperdine University.

Greg has over 25 years of summer debate institute experience including as founding director of the Cal National Debate Institute, director of the Georgetown Debate Seminar, director of the Arizona Debate Institute and has taught at many other summer workshops.


Jenny Achten, Director & Head of Curriculum

Jenny Achten is a Co-Director of Debate The Harker School in San Jose. She has coached multiple national debate champions, including a National Debate Coaches Association Champion and 5 Tournament of Champions winners. She is a member of the Tournament of Champions Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Georgia Debate Coaches Hall of Fame after several years as the head coach at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta.

Previously, Jenny has coached at Pace Academy, Emory University and Arizona State University. Jenny has taught the top seniors lab at Georgetown University, Michigan State and the University of Michigan camps for the last several years. Previously, she worked at a number of other debate institutes, including the Arizona Debate Institute for college students.


Curriculum Leadership


Brian McBride, Lincoln-Douglas Curriculum Director

Brian McBride is the Assistant Director of Debate and lead argument coach for the legendary USC debate team.

Brian is one of the most accomplished and influential debate coaches of the 20 years. His success as a traditionally trained policy debater plus his involvement in the early evolution of critical argumentation in debate helped Brian be recognized as one of the most talented coaches.

Brian’s debate career began at Westbury High School in Houston, Texas for a squad that was lucky to have five members competing at one time. In Brian’s senior year in high school he amassed a win-loss record of 117 wins and 11 losses, winning twelve tournaments. Brian went on to debate for the University of Texas were he received a first round at large bid to the National Debate Tournament three years in a row, winning multiple tournaments and many top five speaker awards.

After graduating from the University of Texas he went on to coach Northwestern University to win three National Championships (NDT titles). Brian moved to the greater Los Angeles area and was the coach who brought an upstart group of debaters from the University of Redlands to the elite 8 (quarter-finals of the NDT) twice. Brian brought his unique expertise to the Trojans in 2006 and is the head argument coach for USC.


Shania Hunt, Beginning Debate & MSPDP

Shania is one of the most versatile debaters and speakers in recent history.  debated for four years at Northland Christian School in Texas. She currently attends UCLA and coaches Harvard Westlake. She is a two-time qualifier to the TOC, three-time qualifier to NSDA Nationals, and four-time qualifier to TFA state.

Some of her debate accomplishments include competing at over a dozen round robins, placing 2nd at the 2014 Cal Berkeley Tournament and champion of the 2013 Greenhill Classic and Cal Berkeley Round Robin. Outside of LD, she was on the National Team USA debate team and competed on behalf of the US at multiple international tournaments. She also placed 2nd in Extemporaneous Speaking at NSDA Nationals. 



Travis Fife, Lincoln-Douglas Curriculum Director


Dr, Joel Lemuel, Policy Curriculum Director

Dr. Joel Lemuel is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication at Pepperdine University. He teaches and writes about theory and practice of argumentation and persuasion as it politics, science, and technology. Joel was an accomplished policy debater in high school and in college, reaching the eliminations rounds of NFL Nationals, the TOC, CEDA, and the NDT. As a coach, he has mentored students to the highest levels of competitive success.

While working as a graduate teaching assistant at Georgia State University (2008-2010) and the University of Southern California (2010-2015) he helped coach several teams to the elimination rounds of CEDA and the NDT. During this period, he also worked as an assistant coach at Notre Dame High School, where he helped a team reach the elimination rounds of the TOC. Joel has led dozens of debate labs during summer institutes at universities across the country including USC, GSU, Emory, and Wake Forest. He has also been an active participant in urban debate leagues in cities across the country including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, and Nashville.


Scott Phillips, Policy Debate for Experienced LD Debaters

Scott Phillips is an full-time faculty member & assistant debate coach at Harvard-Westlake. Scott debated at St. Thomas Academy in Minnesota and at Emory University. In high school, he was the Top Speaker at the Tournament of Champions and CFL National Champion. While debating for Emory University, Scott won ADA nationals, the University of Kentucky Round Robin, Harvard University, Northwestern University and West Georgia. He is a former debate coach at Pace Academy, Notre Dame High School and The Potomac School. Scott teaches summer debate at the University of Michigan. 




Abbey Chapman

Biography coming soon.


Connor Engel

Connor is a senior at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. His junior year he won the Alta Silver and Black Tournament and was in finals of USC. As a senior, Connor won first speaker at both the Greenhill Round Robin and Invitational Tournament, was a finalist at the Greenhill Round Robin, placed 3rd at The Glenbrooks and Emory Univ. He finished 5th at The California Invitational at UC Berkeley.



Evan Engel

Evan debated 3 years in high school Lincoln Douglas for Harvard-Westlake School. Evan was one of the most successful competitors on the national circuit during the 2016-2017 school year receiving 10 bids to The Tournament of Champions. Evan was champion of Stanford, USC, The Glenbrooks and Alta as well as a finalist at Emory and placed 3rd at UC Berkeley. 


Guarav Gawankar

Gaurav has competed in speech in debate for Kingwood High School since freshman year. He competed in policy debate his freshman and sophomore year, qualifying to the Texas Forensic Association’s State Tournament his sophomore year. His junior and senior year, he competed in Public Forum and Worlds Schools debate. In Public Forum, he advanced to quarterfinals at the International Tournament of Champions.

In Worlds Schools Debate, he has advanced to elimination rounds and was awarded 10th speaker at the Pan American tournament in Canada, was top speaker at the Greenhill Fall Classic, and third speaker at the EurOpen 2016. His senior year, Gaurav was a member of the NSDA USA Debate team, competing on their behalf in Croatia, Singapore, and Harvard.


Rebecca Gelfer

Biography coming soon.


J.J. Kim

JJ Kim is a rising senior at the University of California, Berkeley and an assistant debate coach at the Harker School. As a coach, he has worked with the middle school policy debaters to take the State Tournament two years in a row. Now approaching his eighth year in policy debate, he is a member of Cal Debate, the debate team at Berkeley responsible for producing a Top 15 debate team every year.


Bill Neesen


Biography coming soon.


Rodrigo Paramo

Rodrigo holds a B.A. in Literary Studies and is currently pursuing a Masters in Literature at UT Dallas. He coaches LD at Westwood High School and has coached the champion(s) of UT, UH, and Grapevine, with students in outrounds of almost every octas bid tournament in the country. His students this year qualified to both the TOC and NSDA Nationals. In 2017, Rodrigo's student beat out over 180 students and was named 2017 Texas Forensics Association State Champion.


Nick Steele

Nick Steele debated for Harvard-Westlake (CA). As a competitor Nick has reached late elimination rounds of nearly every national tournament he has attended including Loyola, St. Marks, Apple Valley, Glenbrooks, and many more. He was co-champion of Loyola and the Voices Round Robin. He qualified to the TOC three times and won it his senior year.


Liz Yount


Liz was captain of the NSDA’s USA Debate Team and captain of Harvard-Westlakes’s World Schools Debate Team. Winning both international and domestic competitions, she has debated across the world for two years in Germany, Croatia, Singapore, Canada, and Slovenia. She won first place at Croatia’s National Open in 2015, reached finals again in 2016, and defeated the best teams in Asia during the 2017 Singapore Round Robin. Domestically, her HW team was a two-time quarterfinalist at the Harvard College World Schools Invitational where she placed as second speaker in 2016. In Lincoln-Douglas debate for HW, she placed first at the Woodward Academy First Year National Championships in 2015. Liz has also contributed political commentary articles to The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, along with regular columns in the NSDA’s Rostrum magazine. This fall, she will attend the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs as a Presidential Scholar.