Tournaments- Stoa's Guide On What To Bring

What to Bring to a Tournament

Typically, a day at a tournament is similar to a camp-out.  From the rising to the setting of the sun, you and your student will be on a campus of some kind.  Tournaments are held at schools, churches and similar locations with several classrooms and gathering areas.  However, indoor comforts may or may not be available, hence the term “camp” comes to mind.  But like any good Boy Scout, you will come prepared!

Here is what to bring: 


Students will follow the tournament rules for tournament attire.  Most tournaments follow Stoa’s NITOC dress code. Boys usually wear suits and ties while ladies are dressed in similar business attire. Follow the rules.  Families sometimes shop at discount or second-hand stores where very nice suits, jackets, ties and the like can be purchased for far less than department stores charge.  Shop sales. Ask club members for hand-me-downs. Some tournaments require lots of walking and students often will bring a more comfortable pair of shoes to wear between rounds..

Parents often follow suit, dressing in business casual clothing. It’s customary for moms and dads to be in nice slacks, dresses and even jeans.  Some tournaments may require lots of walking. However, there is no dress code for parents.  You may appreciate having a tote or briefcase to carry pens, extra scratch paper, a water bottle, and a snack bar.

NOTE: Check the weather for the full length of the tournament. 


Students will arrive with speech and debate supplies as needed depending on the events they are registered for.  Students keep their materials in a briefcase or backpack. Students should label their carrying case, their Apologetics card box, Mars Hill summary binder, laptop computer, etc.  Debate students should have notepads for flowing their debates and extra pens.  Speech students should keep a copy of their memorized speeches as well as notecards and pens for limited prep rounds they may be competing in. Cell phones or timers are helpful.

Parents are not required to bring note keeping materials, however, experienced parents usually have their favorite tools for flowing a debate round or taking notes while listening to speeches. 


Many families arrive at a tournament with a cooler stocked for several days of “camping out”. Salads, sandwiches and snacks can be premade.  The schedule doesn’t always allow a family to eat together, so planning ahead is important. Tournaments usually provide some food in the judges lounge for parents or via the registration site for students, but this isn’t reliable.  At a minimum, pack a lunch and some hardy snacks.

Clubs typically agree on a location to gather. If families bring pop-up tents, club members can congregate with coolers, lawn chairs or picnic blankets.  Fellowship is a great benefit of Stoa tournaments. Check the tournament website before leaving home to confirm that pop-up tents will be allowed at the tournaments. Some facilities do not allow pop-up tents on their campus.  


God is the finder of all lost things, and tournament directors are the angels of all lost things.  It’s very common for tournament directors to donate found items at the end of the tournament.  Earbuds, iPads, computer cases, debate briefs, nylons, water bottles, curling irons, lunch bags, ties, jackets, umbrellas, etc. are frequently misplaced at tournaments.  If you lost something, reach out to your tournament staff so that they can help you find Lost and Found.


School and church campuses are public places. Though we prefer to believe the best about people and especially our fellow Stoa members, items can be stolen.  Students should be good stewards at tournaments, practicing responsibility with their own stuff and respecting others’ belongings.

School and church campuses who host tournaments are blessings. Parents and competitors alike should take great care of the grounds and classrooms they are using. Litter should be handled appropriately and landscaping should be respected.  We want to be welcomed back to the locations who host us.  Be good guests.