I got an email from MR today. He actually started building the website for Survival Seminars, which is terribly exciting. You can visit it at www.thesurvivalseminars.com, but there isn’t much to see yet.

Anyway, that got me all aflutter about being a young entrepreneur, so I did a little work for the marketing campaign we’ll run next winter to generate interest. I was thinking of other stuff I could do when I had a brilliant idea: run a parliamentary debate workshop for high school kids!

I  got the idea when I remembered an LD seminar I went to when I was in high school. It just ran a couple of days over winter break in Dallas. The fee was really reasonable and it attracted quite a crowd. I have no idea if it turned a profit, but I do remember it was a lot of fun. With that in mind, here’s a rough sketch of the model I put together.

1) Location: We’d want to put it in Oregon, since Public debate is virtually identical to parli and it’s very popular. Plus, that’s where I live. Either Portland or Salem would be the most sensible spot. I’m thinking we’d go for a hotel, which would make it more attractive to students and easier for students from more than an hour away. We could still offer “commuter” program. It’d be a decent hotel with classroom-type spaces we could borrow for lectures and rounds. If we housed students and lab leaders four to a room that would make a very reasonable cost.

2) Duration: We’d run it over winter break, probably the week after Christmas, for three days and two nights (e.g. Thursday 1PM-Saturday 11AM). We’d provide five meals–buying in bulk would cut costs substantially.

3) Content: We’d follow a lecture-lab-practice round format, with special emphasis on labs and feedback on practice round. Imagine a debate tournament with extensive analysis after each round. Lecture topics couldn’t be too theory oriented for public debate, but could cover things like organization, general strategy and time management, issue selection, speaking for persuasion, and maybe something on CP’s. After each lecture we’d break into small lab groups to work on something, maybe related to the lecture, maybe not. Then there’d be practice rounds+feedback.

4) Costs: Buying a bloc of hotel rooms and housing four people in each would mean pretty damn cheap rooms. Food could also be kept below $7/meal/student. The only major cost I’m worried about is classroom space, which seems like it could be pricy. Don’t they charge by the hour?

5) Staff: This one is easy–good parli debaters in the Oregon area, preferably those from HS’s that do public debate. If available we could bring in some ex-debaters who coach at local schools. We might even be able to bring in Rob or Bob. We probably wouldn’t be able to pay beyond room and board and still be profitable, but I think a few people would probably be willing to do it free.