Camp David
Naval Support Facility Thurmont
Catoctin Mountain Park
Frederick County, Maryland in the United States
The main lodge during February 1971
Camp David is located in Maryland
Camp David
Camp David
Location in Maryland
Camp David is located in the United States
Camp David
Camp David
Location in the United States
Coordinates39°38′54″N 77°27′54″W / 39.64833°N 77.46500°W / 39.64833; -77.46500
TypePresidential country retreat
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Navy
Controlled byNaval District Washington
Open to
the public
WebsiteOfficial website
Site history
Built1935 (1935)–1938
Built byWorks Progress Administration
In use1938–present
EventsCamp David Accords (1978)
Camp David Summit (2000)
38th G8 summit (2012)
46th G7 summit (2020, cancelled)
Garrison information
Commander Catherine Eyrich
OccupantsPresident of the United States and the First Family

Camp David is a 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.[1][2][3] It is code named Naval Support Facility Thurmont. Technically a military installation, its 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 Camp David construction and send detachments as needed.

Originally known as Hi-Catoctin, Camp David was built as a retreat for federal government agents and their families by the Works Progress Administration.[4] Construction started in 1935 and was completed in 1938.[5] In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt converted it to a presidential retreat and renamed it "Shangri-La", after the fictional Himalayan paradise.[4] Camp David received its present name in 1953 from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in honor of his father and his grandson, both named David.[6]

The Catoctin Mountain Park does not indicate the location of Camp David on park maps due to privacy and security concerns,[3] although it can be seen through the use of publicly accessible satellite images.

Presidential use

Winston Churchill and FDR at Shangri-La, May 1943

Camp David has been used to host private diplomatic meetings with foreign leaders and heads of state since at least World War II. Franklin D. Roosevelt hosted Winston Churchill at Shangri-La in May 1943, during World War II.[7] 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.[8] Eisenhower met Nikita Khrushchev there for two days of discussions in September 1959.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11] Richard Nixon was a frequent visitor. He personally directed the construction of a swimming pool and other improvements to Aspen Lodge.[12] Gerald Ford hosted Indonesian president Suharto at Camp David.[13]

Jimmy Carter initially favored closing Camp David in order to save money, but once he visited the retreat, he decided to keep it.[14] Carter brokered the Camp David Accords there in September 1978 between Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin.[7] Ronald Reagan visited the retreat more than any other president.[15] In 1984, Reagan hosted British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.[16] Reagan restored the nature trails that Nixon paved over so he could horseback ride at Camp David.[17] George H. W. Bush's daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch, was married there in 1992, in the first wedding held at Camp David.[18] During his tenure as president, Bill Clinton spent every Thanksgiving at Camp David with his family.[19] In July 2000, he hosted the 2000 Camp David Summit negotiations between Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat there.[20][21]

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.[22] After the September 11 attacks, Bush held a Cabinet meeting at Camp David to prepare the United States invasion of Afghanistan.[23] 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.[24] He met Blair there four times.[24] Among the numerous other foreign leaders he hosted at Camp David[24] were Russian president Vladimir Putin[25][26] and President Musharraf of Pakistan in 2003,[27] Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in June 2006,[20] and British prime minister Gordon Brown in 2007.[28]

Barack Obama chose Camp David to host the 38th G8 summit in 2012.[29] President Obama also hosted Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at Camp David,[30] as well as the GCC Summit there in 2015.[31]

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.[32] The 46th G7 summit was to be held at Camp David on June 10–12, 2020, but was cancelled due to health concerns during what was at the time considered the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.[33]

Joe Biden hosted the U.S.–Japan–Korea Summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at Camp David in August 2023, resulting in the declaration of the Camp David Principles on trilateral relations between the U.S., Japan, and South Korea.[34]

Count of visits by each president

Presidential visits to Camp David[15]
President No. of visits Years in office
Roosevelt Unknown 1933–1945
Truman 10 1945–1953
Eisenhower 45 1953–1961
Kennedy 19 1961–1963
Johnson 30 1963–1969
Nixon 160 1969–1974
Ford 29 1974–1977
Carter 99 1977–1981
Reagan 189 1981–1989
G. H. W. Bush 124 1989–1993
Clinton 60 1993–2001
G. W. Bush 150 2001–2009
Obama 39 2009–2017
Trump 15 2017–2021
Biden 36 2021–present

Practice golf facility

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.[35]

Security incidents

Aviation chart showing restricted airspace in the Washington DC area. Camp David is the light circle to the north.

On July 2, 2011, an 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.[36]

On July 10, 2011, an F-15 intercepted another small plane near Camp David when Obama was again in the residence; a total of three were intercepted that weekend.[37]

See also


  1. ^ "Park Map Viewer". Catoctin Mountain Park. Retrieved on February 4, 2011.
  2. ^ "Thurmont town, Maryland Archived November 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on February 4, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions". Catoctin Mountain Park, Retrieved on February 4, 2011. "10. Where is Camp David? The Presidential Retreat is within the park however, it is not open to the public and its location is not shown on our park maps for both security and privacy. If you're interested in historical information, visit our Presidential Retreat webpage."
  4. ^ a b "Camp David". National Archives. August 15, 2016. Archived from the original on May 3, 2020. Retrieved October 9, 2019. 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.
  5. ^ "12 WPA Projects that Still Exist". How Stuff Works. September 16, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
  6. ^ Eisenhower, David; Julie Nixon Eisenhower (2010). Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight David Eisenhower, 1961–1969. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 31.
  7. ^ a b "Camp David". Archived from the original on June 30, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  8. ^ "Dwight D. Eisenhower: Message Prepared for the Conference on Fitness of American Youth". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "Eisenhower and Khrushchev meet for talks". History. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  10. ^ "Camp David | A History of the Presidential Retreat". Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  11. ^ "272 – Address at the State Department's Foreign Policy Conference for Educators". The American Presidency Project. June 19, 1967. Archived from the original on December 27, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  12. ^ W. Dale Nelson, The President is at Camp David (Syracuse University Press, 1995), pp. 69–94.
  13. ^ "Camp David: A History of the Presidential Retreat". July 18, 1942. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  14. ^ "Kentucky New Era". Retrieved October 9, 2019 – via Google News Archive Search.
  15. ^ a b Giorgione, Michael (2017). Inside Camp David: The Private World of the Presidential Retreat. New York: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 34–43. ISBN 978-0-316-50961-9.
  16. ^ Aldous, Richard (2012). Reagan and Thatcher : the difficult relationship (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 978-0-393-06900-6. OCLC 738350026.
  17. ^ "Horseback Riding". October 2010.
  18. ^ "Bush's Daughter Marries With 'a Minimum of Fuss'". The New York Times. June 28, 1992.
  19. ^ O'Brien 2018, p. 178.
  20. ^ a b Shankar, Dakshayani; Wells, Dylan (September 8, 2017). "What to know about presidential retreat Camp David where Trump travels Friday". ABC News. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  21. ^ Department Of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. "Trilateral Statement on the Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David". Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  22. ^ "Bush, Blair conclude meetings at Camp David". CNN. February 24, 2001. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  23. ^ Henriksen, Thomas H. (2022). America's Wars: Interventions, Regime Change, and Insurgencies after the Cold War (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781009053242.005. ISBN 978-1-009-05324-2.
  24. ^ a b c O'Brien 2018, p. 181.
  25. ^ Sanger, David (September 27, 2003). "With issues to resolve, Bush welcomes Putin to Camp David". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  26. ^ "Camp David". Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  27. ^ "President Bush Welcomes President Musharraf to Camp David". Retrieved October 9, 2019 – via National Archives.
  28. ^ "Brown to meet Bush at Camp David". BBC News Online. July 26, 2007. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  29. ^ "White House moves G8 summit from Chicago to Camp David". CBS Chicago. March 5, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  30. ^ Cooper, Helene; Landler, Mark (May 26, 2012). "US hopes Assad can be eased aut with Russia's aid". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 1, 2022. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  31. ^ "Statement by the Press Secretary on the United States-GCC Summit". April 17, 2015 – via National Archives.
  32. ^ Manchester, Julia (December 28, 2017). "Trump to host congressional leaders at Camp David". The Hill. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
  33. ^ Mason, Jeff (March 19, 2020). "Trump cancels G7 at Camp David over coronavirus, to hold videoconference instead". Financial Post. Retrieved March 19, 2020.
  34. ^ "US, Japan, South Korea to announce deeper defense cooperation at Camp David summit". Associated Press. August 16, 2023. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  35. ^ Piastowski, Nick (May 3, 2020). "Donald Trump is staying at Camp David: A look at its one-hole golf course". Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  36. ^ "NORAD intercepts aircraft near Camp David, where President Obama staying with family". The Washington Post. July 2, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  37. ^ Weil, Martin (July 10, 2011). "Jet fighters intercept planes 3 times over weekend near Camp David". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 26, 2015.

Works cited

  • O'Brien, Shannon Bow (2018). Why Presidential Speech Locations Matter: Analyzing Speechmaking from Truman to Obama. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-3-3197-8135-8.