Volunteers Make Debate Possible.

Each year, the Boston Debate League works with hundreds of dedicated volunteers to make sure that every student who comes to every tournament has the opportunity to debate. By sharing their time and talent, volunteers ensure access to the transformative benefits of debate and affirm the notion that young people have important and valuable ideas to contribute to society. Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date with BDL news, community events, and volunteer opportunities.

YOUR ROLE:  Most BDL volunteers serve as volunteer judges, whose role is to listen to debates, share encouragement, offer advice for the next round, and inform tournament staff who won the debate. Some volunteers prefer to serve as tournament staff, whose role is to check other volunteers in, train judges, and run tournament logistics in the tab room. Whichever role fits your strengths and interests, we’ll train and support you throughout the day.

YOUR COMMITMENT:  Volunteers serve in shifts of 4-5 hours, with each shift covering two or three debates. Most tournaments are on Fridays and Saturdays. First-time volunteers should plan to attend a virtual training on the Tuesday before their shift or complete a recorded version at their own pace. Volunteers tell us that they feel most confident and connected when they serve three shifts per season, but we can accommodate almost any level of commitment. 

ELIGIBILITY:  We welcome individuals and groups of any size from all backgrounds, identities, and abilities. No experience with debate or knowledge of the debate topic is necessary. Please contact us with any questions or concerns about your eligibility to serve or if you need accommodations to serve comfortably.

REGISTRATION:  We are looking forward to working with you in the 2021-2022 Debate Season! Registration for tournaments and other volunteer opportunities will open when the season tournament dates are released in late summer, 2021. Be sure to sign up for our email list to stay in the loop!

TRAINING:  All first-time judges are required to complete New Judge training. Beginning in fall 2021, you'll have the option of completing New Judge Training live over Zoom during the week leading up to each tournament, or completing a self-paced, virtual course that includes a series of videos, readings, and comprehension checks. For returning volunteers who would like to learn more about debate and strengthen their feedback, Intermediate Judge Training and Advanced Judge Training are available several times per season - dates will be shared here and with our email list as they are announced.

LOCATION:  All programming during the 2020-2021 Debate Season is virtual. We hope to be able to offer a mix of in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities during the 2021-2022 Debate Season.

Quick Links

Thank you for a successful 2020-2021 Debate Season!

Thank you to all of our incredible volunteers who helped make this unlikely season possible. We are so grateful to work with such a remarkable network of individuals who gave generously of their time and talent to make sure that students continued to have access to debate, even when so many other activities and spaces were inaccessible.

We'll be back in the fall to kick off the 2021-2022 Debate Season, and hope that you'll join us then! In the meantime, please join our email list to receive updates on upcoming events and volunteer opportunities, preparations for the upcoming season, and more. If you are interested in volunteering but do not wish to be added to our email list, please contact us directly.


General Resources for Volunteers

Resources for Virtual Tournaments

Topic Resources

Debate Resources for Returning Judges

  • MyBDL.org: videos on disadvantages, counterplans, topicality, and more
  • Go Fight Win: videos on everything from introductory to advanced topics
  • Dr. Debate: videos on beginner through advanced strategy and arguments