The Speech and Debate Family

Wendy and I gave a free webinar of 97 parents (we almost sold out!) who wanted to hear from us about speech and debate. We broke our presentation down into three sections—time, schooling, and money—which are all concerns for people getting started with speech and debate.

Click to watch the Speech & Debate Family Life Webinar.

Click to watch the Speech & Debate Family Life Webinar.

If you missed the webinar, no worries! You can view it in its entirety at It was a lot of fun and we got the chance to interact with a lot of people.

But for blogging’s sake, let me run down these three sections for you. I bet they’re on your mind if you’re thinking of getting involved.

Show Notes

These are the raw notes of Chris & Wendy Jeub. Follow along with the session, and use the links embedded to make this work.

We’re Chris & Wendy Jeub and we’re here to explain to you our experience in the homeschool speech and debate community.

You may be experienced in this community already, you may be brand new. Either one, that’s great! We’re going to be sharing from our experience.

What we’re not going to be sharing is the details of what speech and debate actually IS. I wrote a book that drills down into that. IEW carries the book and is giving it away with every $100 purchase. To find out more:

The purpose of Jeub’s Guide is the same purpose we have with this webinar, Speech & Debate Family life: “To make the speech and debate community easy and fun to get involved.” By the end of this webinar, you should be able to envision your family participating — with ease and with joy — in the speech and debate community.

Who We Are

First, an intro to who we are. We took a picture of our family right before our yearly birthday bash. You can find out more about us at

Whenever we watch a webinar or a speaker, we like to know why they know what they know. Let us build our credibility a bit when it comes to speech and debate.

  • Involved since 1996 when it started for homescholers
  • Participated in NFL, HSLDA, NCFCA, and Stoa
  • Run a 501c3 Training Minds Ministry
  • Write sourcebooks and curriculum
  • Our entire family gets involved

As you can see, we have a lot to say about speech and debate. There are three topics we will be covering about the speech and debate family life: Time, Schooling and Money. Most of the questions people have about this community seem to revolve around these three topics. So, let’s get going.

Time: Putting Your Commitment In Perspecitve

  • As home educators have only so much time to teach, and speech and debate seems like it is something extra. But it weaves into everything we want to teach them.
  • When you think about it, what do you want your kids to learn in high school?
      • When you see these these teenagers able to think, speak and persuade in public, you will see the value in this.
      • Their research skills are most notable. The kids are able to learn and grow on their own, and for a family our size, we love it when they take ownership of their education.
    • People think I (Chris) was a big speaker in high school, but I wasn’t.
      • I became an English teacher in 1993, and was thrown into a coaching position for debate. I loved it, and when HSLDA started a homeschool league, we jumped on board.
    • The rest is history, and I explain it in my book. We moved to Colorado, started Training Minds Ministry, and have been publishing curriculum and hosting camps ever since.
  • Speech and debate is about as “curricular” as an “extracurricular” activity can get.
    • Let me read a quote to you from someone who didn’t have a clue what speech and debate was when he started, but his eyes were opened when he attended a tournament many years ago.
    • “I saw and heard these young men and women preparing themselves with the writing, speaking, teamwork, and leadership skills so desperately needed in our world today—they were in many ways demonstrating the best of the educational world as I knew it. I was profoundly inspired.” – Andrew Pudewa
    • I do not like calling speech and debate “extracurricular,” because it is very, very curricular.
  • Keep it in perspective
    • We are teaching communication skills that will last a lifetime. Kids learn how to communicate with their peers in junior high and high school. This is a dialectic stage, and we should not compromise the need for communication development.
    • How the students improve in writing is incredible. The student picks a piece, they write an oratory, they desire to do well in competition, and they are constantly going through the writing process.
    • Another aspect to all of this is competition. When the kids are looking forward to a tournament, the element of competition is an incredible motivator. And when they go to the tournament and perform a speech, they compare themselves with their peers, and that encourages them to get better. All the ships rise with the tide, you might say.
  • So, in conclusion, speech and debate is threaded throughout everything we want to teach. In fact, we go so far as to let other parts of our education go to the wayside to make room for a busy club and tournament schedule.
    • For example, we go to a co-op once a week to cap-off what we taught the previous week. Last month Chris brought the older kids to a tournament in Tulsa. It became a conflict with our co-op because the decision needed to be made: either stay home from the tournament or drop out of the demand of co-op for the week. We chose speech and debate over co-op that week, and we were fine with that.
    • In fact, the picture above is of our kids at the end of the tournament. They took home some awesome awards.

Schooling: Camp, Curriculum and Tournaments

  • The next big question we get has to do with how we fit speech and debate in with all of our other educational demands.
    • This is associated with time. We’re tasked with fitting in speech and debate. This is where my ministry (Training Minds Ministry) comes in. Remember the purpose I showed you at the beginning of this presentation…
    • “To make the speech and debate community easy and fun to get involved.” This is why Wendy and I consider this to be a “ministry.” Schooling does get complicated, the demands of a homeschool are overwhelming at times. We honestly believe it is all worth it…AND we believe it is very, very possible — and incredibly rewarding — to fit it in.
  • Credibility slide
    • Again, it’s nice to flash our credentials.
      • Homeschooling since 1992
        Teaching degree in English
      • Licensed to teach in Colorado, North Dakota, Minnesota
        Publisher of educational curriculum
        Administrator of national speech and debate camps
        Director of the largest homeschool speech & debate tournament in history
    • All this to say, we’ve got a lot to share with you on how you can fit speech and debate into your educational plans.
  • Three solutions
    • We offer three solutions to including speech and debate into your schooling: camps, curriculum, and tournaments. When you make these three part of your big plans, speech and debate becomes easy and fun (which is what we want this to be, remember?). So let’s talk about these things.
  • Camp
    • Consider one of our Training Minds Camps. We have five camps, four of which have registration open right now. They’re filling up, so if you want to fit this in, you’ll want to do this right away.
    • Let me explain them real quick. Our main camps are our Training Minds Camps. If you’re brand new to speech and debate, these camps are for you. We have advanced tracks, but about 1/3 of the campers are brand new to this. These are our biggest and most exciting camps, IMHO. Our East Camp is at Regent University in Virginia Beach July 23-27 with keynote speaker Andrew Pudewa joining our coaching staff. And our West Camp is the following week July 30-August 3 at Point Loma University in San Diego where we have Michael Hyatt speaking as keynote (that is incredibly exciting!).
    • We have a sole “no novices allowed” camp in Colorado August 7-10 for Lincoln-Douglas debaters. That’s going to be exciting!
    • And I like to think we are with you all the way through the end. If you make it to your national tournament, we host a 2-day camp right before nationals called the Nationals Intensive Training Camp. One of the national tournaments–the one our family participates in–is in a week and a half, so our kids are participating in Siloam Springs for NITC. A month later my coaches will be in Tulsa for the NCFCA NITC camp (that registration is open now, in case you are one who made it to Nationals in the NCFCA).
    • Information on these camps can be found on our website at training
    • Wendy: Chances are good that you send your kids to a camp in the summer. It’s something families enjoy doing. There are three things that make Training Minds Camps special:
      • 1. Most parents send their kids to camp in the summer, but there is little or no educational benefit. Our camps are about “training minds for action,” academically rigorous.
      • 2. Parents are welcome to attend! In fact, they learn along with the students. We encourage participation by offering 1/2 off tuition for all our parent/coaches.
      • 3. The community foundation is awesome. The kids get to know other kids from around the country as they grow to understand the speech and debate activities.
    • Chris: Camp helps kick you off for your year. Our kids go every year, and they are some of the best experiences of their education. But the rest of the year is done through local clubs…
  • Clubs
    • Now, it is possible to teach speech and debate in your homeschool without a club, but clubs are absolutely awesome. Our kids look forward to club every single week more than any other activity.
    • We meet for a structured amount of time. This year we’re changing it up a bit to accommodate for our families. From 3-4:30 we do speech, 4:30 to 5:30 we do debate class, and after dinner till 8:00pm we do scrimmages and drills. We do this every Tuesday. Chances are there are clubs in your area that run along a similar schedule. If not, you can start one.
    • Remember our purpose: make this easy and fun. The kids take care of the “fun” part…you don’t need to worry about that. The easy part takes some help. We publish curriculum every year for clubs to cover all the speech and debate events. Clubs all across the country work through this curriculum to prepare their students for competition.
    • All our curriculum is laid out at We don’t have time to dig deep into what each of these sourcebooks and curricula go into (in fact, I may host another webinar that will explain exactly what to expect in all our curriculum). Just know that we try hard to finger through the complex to make it easy for you.
      • I have to share with you a little story. One of the new moms from our club has her son participating in one speech event. Which is great! You don’t need to do everything all at once.
      • She traveled with him up to South Dakota for a tournament a couple weeks ago, and met another mom from Utah (whom I know) at the tournament.
      • The mom in my club wanted me to know what this other mom from out of state said about my curriculum. This is 3rd-party, but it warmed my heart:
      • “Debate was a complicated maze to me…until I went to camp and got the Blue Book Curriculum. After that, my kids and I fell in love with the activity.”
    • Our overall point is this: When you get into clubs and curriculum, you start to “get it.” It becomes part of your overall educational strategy. And it’s easy and fun!
  • Tournaments
    • All club preparation, all the work you put into understanding and excelling at the speech and debate activities, all point toward tournaments.
    • If you have never been to a tournament, you have got to get to one. I believe tournaments are the culmination of everything in the homeschool movement. Seriously, all the hard work and dedication we put into the reading, research, communications, leadership training, worldview — you name it — come together in these incredible social events called Speech & Debate Tournaments.
    • Tournaments are run by volunteer parents and speech and debate alumni. Family love to attend, community leaders love to judge rounds, and the kids love to get together for healthy competition in everything they have been preparing for throughout the year.
    • As I mentioned earlier, I ran the largest homeschool speech and debate tournament EVER last year at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. It was the national tournament for Stoa, and 600 competitors and their families gathered together for a week of festivities. I’m tellin’ ya, it was absolutely AWESOME. I must say, it was an honor and privilege to run the national tournament, and for it to be the largest tournament ever was a real God thing. It was the pinnacle of my career.
    • The national tournament is the end of the year in May or June, but just about 5-6 months later we hosted our first tournament of the new school year. It was small, everyone was just learning, and we gathered together with perhaps the smallest tournament (in Colorado, anyway) of the year.
    • I’d like to show you a video that I captured in November when I ran this smaller tournament. It captures the spirit of the event. I had a friend video tape me walking from room to room in the hallway during the first debates. The tournament went on in Sunday school rooms at a local church. Check it out…
    • Isn’t that neat?
    • Wendy: It should be said that families can bite off what they can handle. You don’t need to do ALL the tournaments. Most families in our club attended 3-5 tournaments throughout the entire year. We did 9, and our 10th is next week in Siloam Springs. So, you can go all out like us and travel, or you can take it easy and still have a very fulfilling year.
    • These are on the calendar at your league website. Note that most of the tournaments for this school season are over, and we pretty much have only the national tournaments in May and June. If you could make it to either one of these, you’d be in for quite a grande finale. Everyone is clunky and rough at the beginning of the year, but by the national tournament, they are sharp!


  • Wendy: Costs are similar to any sport. Compared to what we see other families spend on sports, Speech & Debate is minimal.
  • Let me list the expenses involved in participating:
    • League affiliation or membership ($45…includes the whole family)
    • Club dues (varies to cover curriculum, rentals, club stuff)
    • Sourcebooks ($30 each…students buy 1-5 of them)
    • Tournament fees ($10-$20 per speech event, $20-$35 per debate event)
    • Travel fees (if you plan to travel)
    • Suits and professional attire – To tell you the truth, we save a lot of money by buying our suits at Good Will.
  • Wendy: As you can see, the costs are very similar to if you were involved with soccer or any sport. You as a family commit to doing it, and you do it.

Other Ideas:

  • Chris: Those are the three biggies (time, schooling, money) that show you who we are and how we handle speech and debate for our family. But there are other ideas that we don’t have the time to touch on. I could go on and on with stories for each of these, but real quickly…
    • Learning disabilities and speech impediments (speech and debate is a great place for kids who have struggles)
    • Character and spiritual development (I could go on and on about how much these students learn about themselves and about God through events like Apologetics and Mars Hill)
    • Family friendly environment (there are lots of little kids helping out at tournaments and in club)
    • Junior Tournaments (there are events for kids younger than 12, and some of them are actually run by the high schoolers…which is cool)
    • Scholarships for college (colleges LOVE speakers and debaters, and those that make a healthy run at competition have colleges literally eating out of their hands later)
    • Multi-generational involvement (grandparents love to judge at tournaments!)
    • Community involvement (we had about 1000 community judges — mayors, pastors, politicians, doctors, lawyers — at the national tournament last year…it was a great way to pull the community together)

All that to say, speech and debate is JUST PLAIN AWESOME. You have got to do it.

Here are the websites that we referred to throughout the presentation:

 Videos of our kids’ speeches: