We’ve got one last instructor to announce for our 2017 camp: Mabel Thomas! Like many of our staff, she began attending MDI as a student our first year — and she’s apparently opted to never leave. We’re down with that.

Mabel debated for Edina High School. Over her four years, she did well at many local competitions and traveled with her team. While she was never able to represent her debate team at sections, she qualified to and competed at the state and national tournaments in speech.

One thing we’ve always tried to do with MDI is keep it energetic, authentic, and fun. What we’ve learned over the past three years of working with her is that Mabel fits right into that mission: People like jokes. Mabel makes jokes. People like Mabel. She’s smart and quick-witted, traits that made her a good debater — and that will make her an excellent teacher. MDI wouldn’t be the same without her, so we’re glad she agreed to come back as an instructor!

Want to know more about Mabel? Here are her answers to five quick questions about debate and camp:

1. Why did you join the debate team? Why did you stay?

Mabel: Well I joined debate team because I’d heard it looked really good on college application, and I also just enjoyed arguing people. I’ve also always enjoyed public speaking, and adored being the center of attention, so an activity where I could argue with people while they actually paid attention me sounded like heaven. At first, practices were super confusing and overcrowded, but then a tournament came around. I did fairly well at my first tournament and that little boost of confidence made me come back to practice when many of my discouraged peers quit.

2. You attended MDI as a student last year. What did you gain from that experience?

Mabel: I’ve attended MDI since the camp opened, and in addition to an excellent head start on that years topic and individual instruction on my debate skills, it was the relationships I formed that I value the most. There are no words for how comforting and exciting it is to know people at tournaments that aren’t on your team. Also, though you learn innumerable skills and techniques from the instructors, it’s amazing how much you can learn from your fellow debaters about both debate and life in general.

3. What’s the most important thing you learned from your last four years in debate?

Mabel: “Extend offense that links to the winning criterion and outweighs your opponents.” Changed my life.

4. Who is your favorite philosopher?

Mabel: I’m a Rawls girl myself. I LOVE the veil of ignorance/original position argument and I ran a Rawls framework for almost all of my cases while I was a debater. I think I’m drawn to it because most people don’t really understand it and thus undercover it or mishandle it, and so it’s an easy framework to excavate and extend.

5. What excites you most about MDI 2k17?

Mabel: I’m so excited to see how much MDI has glo’d up! It’s grown so much every year and done nothing but improve since I started going. I’m also super pumped for the rap battle. In the words of the youngsters of today “MDIbars2k17 finna be lit.”

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