It’s time to sift through all the summer camp brochures and sign your kids up for camp! As both a parent and the camp director at the University Club of MSU, I’ve learned a thing or two about selecting a camp that is a good fit for both the child and the parent. For children, the criteria for a good summer camp are pretty basic; it should focus on something the kids enjoy, be a lot of fun and offer them a sense of belonging. For parents, the criteria are a little more complex. Timing, location and type of camp are all key components that will help determine your camp selection. Then, comes the harder part of assessing quality. First, I recommend camps that are licensed by the state of Michigan. This will ensure that the camp has an appropriate staff-to-camper ratio and holds the highest health, safety and emergency standards — from weather emergencies to camper release policies. A professional, nurturing camp staff is also critical. For the U Club, I hire people who are not only great with kids, but also have a background in education and are trained in age-appropriate behavior management, CPR, emergency first aid and more. Since the U Club offers recreational swimming and swim lessons, certified lifeguards on duty are a must. Nutritious, tasty lunches and snacks, with options for children with allergies, are also things to consider. Now the fun part … the programming. Does the camp offer a diverse array of enriching activities, guest presenters, unique learning opportunities or outdoor fun (such as swimming or sports lessons)? That’s the icing on the cake, where you identify the finest camps around. Programming such as culinary experiences, animal visits, hands-on opportunities, active games, exploring the arts, experiencing language and culture, learning a bit of history, problem-solving adventures and performances can really set a camp apart. A quality camp will provide your children with something a regular classroom cannot: freedom to explore, the chance to safely step outside their comfort zone, and abundant opportunities to build friendships, confidence and self-esteem. It allows them to be creative and showcase their individual talents while they are also learning new skills. Something as simple as jumping off a diving board or singing in the talent show with their buddies can send confidence soaring and spark a passion in your child for life. So, when you choose a camp for your child this summer, look deeply into what is offered and find someplace amazing for your child to turn “free time” into lifelong memories! The family-friendly University Club offers a service-rich tradition of fabulous dining and entertainment, flawlessly executed meetings and events, leisurely tennis, swimming and golf and an outstanding fitness center and spa. Memberships in this award-winning private facility are available to all.