Camp David is the 125-acre (51 ha) country retreat for the President of the United States. It is located in the wooded hills of Catoctin Mountain Park, in Frederick County, Maryland, near the towns of Thurmont and Emmitsburg, about 62 miles (100 km) north-northwest of the national capital city of Washington, D.C. It is officially known as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont. Because it is technically a military installation, the staffing is primarily provided by the Seabees, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. Naval construction battalions are tasked with base construction and send detachments as needed.
Naval Support Facility Thurmont
|Catoctin Mountain Park|
Frederick County, Maryland in the United States
Location in Maryland
Location in the United States
|Coordinates||39°38′54″N 77°27′54″W / 39.64833°N 77.46500°WCoordinates: 39°38′54″N 77°27′54″W / 39.64833°N 77.46500°W|
|Type||Presidential country retreat|
|Owner||Department of Defense|
|Controlled by||Naval District Washington|
|Built by||Works Progress Administration|
|In use||1938 – present|
|Events||Camp David Accords (1978)|
Camp David Summit (2000)
38th G8 summit (2012)
|Commander Catherine Eyrich|
|Occupants||President of the United States and the First Family|
Originally known as Hi-Catoctin, Camp David was built as a camp for federal government agents and their families by the Works Progress Administration. Construction started in 1935 and was completed in 1938. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt converted it to a presidential retreat and renamed it "Shangri-La", for the fictional Himalayan paradise in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton.
Camp David received its present name in 1953 from Dwight D. Eisenhower, in honor of his father and his grandson, both named David.
The Catoctin Mountain Park does not indicate the location of Camp David on park maps due to privacy and security concerns, although it can be seen through the use of publicly accessible satellite images.
Franklin D. Roosevelt hosted Sir Winston Churchill at Shangri-La in May 1943, during World War II. Dwight Eisenhower held his first cabinet meeting there on November 22, 1955, following hospitalization and convalescence he required after a heart attack suffered in Denver, Colorado, on September 24. Eisenhower met Nikita Khrushchev there for two days of discussions in September 1959.
John F. Kennedy and his family often enjoyed riding and other recreational activities there, and Kennedy often allowed White House staff and Cabinet members to use the retreat when he or his family were not there. Lyndon B. Johnson met with advisors in this setting and hosted both Australian prime minister Harold Holt and Canadian prime minister Lester B. Pearson there. Richard Nixon was a frequent visitor. He personally directed the construction of a swimming pool and other improvements to Aspen Lodge. Gerald Ford hosted Indonesian president Suharto at Camp David.
Jimmy Carter initially favored closing Camp David in order to save money, but once he visited the retreat, he decided to keep it. Carter brokered the Camp David Accords there in September 1978 between Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. Ronald Reagan visited the retreat more than any other president. In 1984, Reagan hosted British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Reagan restored the nature trails that Nixon paved over so he could horseback ride at Camp David. George H. W. Bush's daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch, was married there in 1992, in the first wedding held at Camp David. During his tenure as president, Bill Clinton spent every Thanksgiving at Camp David with his family. In July 2000, he hosted the 2000 Camp David Summit negotiations between Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat there.
In February 2001, George W. Bush held his first meeting with a European leader, UK prime minister Tony Blair, at Camp David, to discuss missile defense, Iraq, and NATO. After the September 11 attacks, Bush held a Cabinet meeting at Camp David to prepare the United States invasion of Afghanistan. During his two terms in office, Bush visited Camp David 149 times, for a total of 487 days, for hosting foreign visitors as well as a personal retreat. He met Blair there four times. Among the numerous other foreign leaders he hosted at Camp David were Russian president Vladimir Putin and President Musharraf of Pakistan in 2003, Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in June 2006, and British prime minister Gordon Brown in 2007.
Barack Obama chose Camp David to host the 38th G8 summit in 2012. President Obama also hosted Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at Camp David, as well as the GCC Summit there in 2015.
Donald Trump hosted Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan at Camp David while the Republican Party prepared to defend both houses of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The 46th G7 summit was to be held at Camp David on June 10–12, 2020, but was cancelled due to health concerns during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
|President||No. of visits||Years in office|
|G. H. W. Bush||124||1989–1993|
|G. W. Bush||150||2001–2009|
To be able to play his favorite sport, President Eisenhower had golf course architect Robert Trent Jones design a practice golf facility at Camp David. Around 1954, Jones built one golf hole—a par 3—with four different tees; Eisenhower added a 250-yard (230 m) driving range near the helicopter landing zone.
On July 2, 2011, a F-15 intercepted a civilian aircraft approximately 6 miles (10 km) from Camp David, when President Obama was in the residence. The two-seater, which was out of radio communication, was escorted to nearby Hagerstown, Maryland, without incident.
On July 10, 2011, a F-15 intercepted another small plane near Camp David when Obama was again in the residence; a total of three were intercepted that weekend.
Main living room of the lodge, with FDR's chair (near bookcase) and Teddy Roosevelt's rocker
U.S. Marine standing guard at Shangri-La, 1944
Main Lodge during Eisenhower administration, 1959
David Eisenhower (1960)
Eisenhower with John F. Kennedy, in a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo
John F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Caroline Kennedy (riding 'Tex')
Lyndon B. Johnson with Ellsworth Bunker and W. Averell Harriman at Aspen cabin (1968)
Gerald and Betty Ford with their daughter Susan
Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter, and Menachem Begin on the Aspen Lodge patio, September 6, 1978
Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (1986)
George H. W. Bush and advisors in the Laurel Lodge conference room (1990)
Bill Clinton with Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian president Yasser Arafat at Camp David peace talks (2000)
George W. Bush with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (2007)
The 2012 G8 Summit. Clockwise: Barack Obama (standing), Cameron, Medvedev, Merkel, Van Rompuy, Barroso, Noda, Monti, Harper, Hollande.
Donald Trump is briefed about Hurricane Dorian, August 2019
Joe Biden on a video conference in August 2021
Officially a U.S. Navy installation, the facility was originally built by the Works Progress Administration as a camp for government employees, opening in 1938. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took it over in a few years and named it "Shangri-La," for the mountain kingdom in Lost Horizon, the 1933 novel by James Hilton. It was renamed in 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in honor of his then-five-year-old grandson, Dwight David Eisenhower II.