Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About The MSDI

Every year we get dozens of phone calls and email messages from students and parents with questions about MSDI policy. We want to do everything possible to familiarize you our policies and procedures. If you have any questions, please feel free to email the camp at In the interim, we hope that the following FAQ sheet will help you get to know us a little better.

Q: What happens to my non-refundable deposit if my event camp does not make?

A: The reason we use deposits is that we've lost thousands of dollars over the years on no-show students, and moving to a deposit nearly eliminated that problem. Since one deposit covers any/all event camps, most students usually attend. If a camp not making results in you not attending, we would certainly return your deposit! Similarly, if we are forced to shift modality (live to online, for example), you will have a few days to decide whether to shift or get your deposit back. 

If you've made a deposit with a credit card using the online CASHNet system, it will be a lot faster than the Payment Request process (which will mail you a check). Similarly, if you pay more than the deposit up front and then have to cancel, we are willing to return all but the deposit (and if you paid via credit card, it will be much faster). We ask that anyone who signs up but determines they cannot attend to contact us as soon as possible - this increases our ability to offer scholarships and clear anyone who might be waitlisted.

Q: How do I contact my child while they are at camp?

A: Nearly all students bring cell phones, which are an excellent choice. The residence hall has active phone lines, but does not have physical phones. Students may bring landline phones, but should bring a calling card for any long distance calls. Parents can also leave messages with the camp office phone or the hall. At registration, we will provide students the cell phone numbers of the directors, which parents may freely use in an emergency or if their students are not responding quickly enough.

Q: How many students share a room?

A: Each sleeping room contains two beds and, at most, two students. The residence halls use a suite style arrangement, so more than two students will share a suite, including the bathroom, but the sleeping rooms will never have more than 2 students. Students are never allowed in the suites or rooms of the opposite sex; a common work area in the hall will be provided.

Q: Do I need extra money?

A: You will be charged $10 for a replacement if you lose your key. Sometimes students wish to purchase snack food, soda, etc., or order pizza or other delivery items from local establishments. You should bring that amount of money you feel will be sufficient to cover these expenses. None of these purchases are required by the camp.

Q: Is there a service charge to use CASHNet for payment?

A: Yes, because credit card companies charge Missouri State for payments made that way. You can avoid the service fee by making a direct payment from your bank account. Some people make the deposit using CASHNet, but bring a check (or cash) to registration to pay off the remainder - that reduces the service charge considerably.

Q: Do I need to pay via CASHNet for T-shirts etc.?

A: No. We provide a T-shirt as part of tuition, and some other items too (depending on the needs of the camp). We have this option on CASHNet for when students want to order an extra T-shirt, replace a lost timer, etc. Some parents find this easier than having the students pay directly for such things, although that is also an option.

Q: Are there restrictions for leaving campus and the residence halls?

A: Springfield and the Missouri State campus are very safe places. However, we think it's important to know where debaters are at all times. Consequently, campers are restricted to the Missouri State Campus perimeter during their stay at MSDI. This includes a couple of restaurants touching the campus (spelled out during the opening hall meeting). Exceptions are made for any official supervised camp activity or if a student has officially checked out to a parent or an adult appointed in writing by a parent. If your student is allowed to leave with local relatives, please send a signed note to registration detailing the particulars. Students are also not allowed to leave the residence hall after 11pm room check. Everything needed for entertainment, research, and food can be found within the boundaries of Missouri State. Our recently renovated campus union has several fast food options, an arcade, a bowling alley, and other recreation options.

Q: Can I leave campus on weekends, evenings, etc.?

A: We have normal sessions on weekends, including all day Saturday and Sunday afternoon/evening. Sessions are 9am-9pm daily (9-5 if online, with some optional evening sessions), minus meal breaks, but start no earlier than noon on Sundays. If you miss evenings or weekends, or depart the camp early, you will miss instructional content. We don't pro-rate tuition in these cases, as don't have a way to pro-rate our cost of providing service. This may also impact partner pairings, so it's important to notify us in advance for planning.

You can miss only with written permission from your parent or guardian. Hall residents may only leave if accompanied by a parent or designated adult. Commuters may leave in the same way they arrived, with parental permission to do so.

Q: What happens if I get sick or hurt?

A: Students are encouraged to drink lots of fluids and take proper care of themselves during camp as it can become quite hot in Missouri during the summer. If you become ill during the camp a MSDI staff member will accompany you to the appropriate medical facility. After we have received your camp registration you and your parents will be asked to fill out two medical forms. One authorizes the Magers Health and Wellness Center on the Missouri State campus to treat you for illness and minor injuries. The second form allows you to be treated for more serious conditions, as well as after hours, at Mercy Hospital.

Q: Can I go to church?

A: There are no church services on campus proper. For Catholic and Presbyterian students there are churches on the immediate perimeter of campus that you may walk to after informing the camp staff. If you wish to attend services for another denomination, please let us know. We will make every effort to see that you get to a church in Springfield.

Q: When do I find out if I have been accepted?

A: Enrollment is based on capacity of the residence halls. MSDI reserves the right to stop enrollment once the facilities have reached capacity, but we will post this promptly on our website. We generally reserve facilities well above past camp sizes, so unless you are notified otherwise, you can expect to be enrolled once your registration form and deposit are received. A secondary mailing with camp procedures, health forms, and waivers will be mailed upon acceptance. If you are enrolling close to the deadline, and mailing a check for your deposit, please be in touch by email as well. The Event camps will have a minimum enrollment to "make". If the minimum enrollment is not met, then those camps may be cancelled and deposits refunded. Please do not buy plane tickets, etc., unless you have confirmed we have met our minimum enrollment.

Q: What should I bring?

A: Each room is furnished with two beds, mattress pads, study desks, bookshelves, closets, and desk chairs. Because all students will be involved in researching and participating in a number of practice debates, it is important to bring the material and equipment you will need.

For example, you may wish to bring a notebook, flowing paper, pens, etc.

Since debate is largely paperless now, students are encouraged to bring a functioning laptop computer. A PC or MAC is far superior to a Chromebook, if available. We also suggest the computer have a working copy of MS Word, and we recommend installing the Verbatim Template. We can help with the last part on arrival, if necessary. 

Some students bring computers to take advantage of the halls' high speed internet capabilities. If you do, please bring an ethernet cord, which is faster than wireless. The wireless signals often do not reach many areas of the hall. You may bring stereos, hair dryers, popcorn poppers, and similar devices for your rooms.

Q: What about linens, pillows, blankets & towels?

A: We ask students to bring their own linens. This protects us from having to pass on a charge high enough that you could buy a new set for every week of camp. We suspect that buying XL twin sheets will be a good choice, since your student will probably need them at any college.

You are encouraged to bring a blanket and towel as well. 

We can also make a run after registration for a reasonable price. If you are flying in, we could arrange to do a Wal-Mart run for linens, pillows, and any other supplies needed on the way from the airport.

Q: Are there other transportation options?

A: Yes! If you fly into the Springfield-Branson (SGF) National Airport on the camp's start and end days, we will give you free transportation. We need to know your flight numbers, arrival, and departure time at least 2 weeks in advance. We will give you cell phone contact information for our staff. If you fly on other days, please contact us to make arrangements. If you find significantly lower rates at the Branson (BKG) Airport, we can help arrange a shuttle. There is a Trailways/Greyhound bus depot in Springfield, and we will pick up students for free, with the same provisos as with flying. We don't have an AMTRAK station.

Q: Do I need to buy evidence?

A: Digital copies of the evidence produced by your labs and generic working groups will be available for you at no charge. We don't use paper evidence. 

Q: Can arrangements be made to meet with campus officials while if I'm interested in attending Missouri State ?

A: Yes. We are always interested in recruiting new students from our camps. Depending on availability, we can arrange for you to meet an admissions officer, department chairperson, or professor. Please speak to us in advance if you are interested.

Q: Can I receive mail while at camp?

A: Yes. Mail from home can be sent to the camper, care of the Missouri State Debate Institute, at the camp address (see home page). Also, it can be send directly to the residence halls. We will add the hall addresses once arrangements are finalized as the camp draws near.

Q: I have another obligation, and it may be difficult to arrive by camp registration.

A: This is a common concern. The normal registration time is set to enable parents to bring students from out of town and return home the same evening. We are happy to work with you on arriving and registering late - please contact us if this will be a concern.

Q: What about early arrival or late departure?

A: Early arrival and late departure require special accommodation on the part of the residence halls, and create a supervision challenge. We aren't able to promise either of these, but we are willing to explore options if contacted well in advance.

Q: What happens on July 4?

A: There will be an appropriate activity in the evening of July 4 for those planning remaining in camp that evening. It's important to notify us as early as possible if parents wish check their students out that evening, so we can plan appropriately for our camp activity. During the daytime, we have normal camp instruction. If parents want their kids to miss that instruction to attend a family event, please notify us in advance so we can shuffle partnerships (advance notification is appreciated anytime a student will miss a practice round).

Q: Do you offer financial aid?

A: The MSDI policy debate camp is not designed to earn a profit - in fact, it costs more to host than we receive in tuition. In most years, the camp loses money and the debate team absorbs that loss directly. Our primary approach to helping students afford camp is to keep our prices as low as possible. Many students have attended for full price, impressed the coaching staff, and received college debate scholarship offers several times larger than the tuition they paid to attend.

That said, toward the end of registration, we can estimate whether our budget will allow for small scholarships for students with demonstrated need. Furthermore, we seek to locate debate alumni willing to make contributions to help in particular cases. MSDI has never offered a scholarship which exceeded 50% of tuition - we try to use limited scholarship funds to maximize the number of attendees.

If a small scholarship would enable you to attend camp, you may apply by sending a letter to the camp address or an email to This letter MUST include

  • A discussion of your individual circumstances, with any supporting material you wish us to consider,
  • What contributions you commit to provide, including any expected scholarships from your high school or other sources,
  • What specific sessions you would hope to attend, and
  • Your current long-term debate aspirations, including college debate and
  • A statement that you have read and understand these policies (if you don't, please contact us for clarification).

We may show the letter to others, such as alumni and friends of the program, for the purpose of soliciting contributions to help defray your costs. If you prefer we do not do so, please make that clear in the letter. You need to apply by May 1 for us to consider a scholarship request. We are open to refunding a registration deposit (it may take a couple of weeks - faster if you paid by credit card via CASHNet). if the aid we are able to locate is not sufficient to make attendance possible, so long as we are notified promptly and can thus to avoid costs on our end. We will respond to letters near the end of registration as our budget situation becomes clearer – please do not inquire unless you still haven’t heard from us by June 1st.

Q: How do I drive to Springfield and the Missouri State campus?

A: There are several transportation options, including driving and flying.

If driving from the west (Joplin and Oklahoma):

  • From eastbound I-44 exit on Kansas Expressway (Exit 77).
  • Turn right (south) and continue several miles.
  • Turn left at the stop light for Walnut St.
  • Continue to the stop light for John Q Hammons Parkway (there is a large black tower on your left), and turn right.
  • Drive south 3 blocks to Harrison Street and turn left.
  • Hammons Hall is the first residence hall on your left.

If driving from the northwest (Kansas City):

  • Take I-49 south past Harrison to Highway 7 east.
  • Proceed on Highway 7 east to Clinton.
  • In Clinton take Highway 13 south to Springfield.
  • Upon entering Springfield (crossing over I-44), Highway 13 will become Kansas Expressway. Continue south on Kansas Expressway.
  • Turn left at the stop light for Walnut Street.
  • Continue to the stop light for John Q Hammons Parkway (there is a large black tower on your left), and turn right.
  • Drive south 3 blocks to Harrison Street and turn left.
  • Hammons Hall is the first residence hall on your left.

If driving from the northeast (St. Louis):

  • Take I-44 west to Springfield.
  • Exit on Glenstone Avenue (Exit 80). Turn left (south) and continue several miles.
  • Turn right at the stop light for Cherry Street.
  • Continue to the 4-way stop for John Q Hammons Parkway (you'll pass a Taco Bell and the backs of the residence halls), and turn left.
  • Drive south 1 block to Harrison Street and turn left.
  • Hammons Hall is the first residence hall on your left.

If driving from the south (Branson and Arkansas):

  • Take US Highway 65 north to Springfield.
  • Exit on Sunshine Street.
  • Turn left (west) and continue several miles.
  • Turn right (north) on National Avenue.
  • Turn left at the stop light for Cherry Street (past Taco Bell).
  • Continue to the 4-way stop for John Q Hammons Parkway, and turn left.
  • Drive south 1 block to Harrison Street and turn left.
  • Hammons Hall is the first residence hall on your left.