Saturday, January 7, 2012

President Obama at Camp David

As of 7/31/2016 -  Number of visits to Camp David:  39

Last Updated: July 31, 2016

President Obama and his family spent their first weekend at Camp David in February 2009.  He described his visit to reporters:  "It was beautiful. The girls just had a great time. They had a lot of fun. You can see during the summer it's going to be a nice place to spend a lot of time."  He hit some golf balls and played basketball there that weekend.

In June 2009, Time Magazine reported that President Obama was going to make the Evergreen Chapel at Camp David his primary place of worship because his presence at local church services was often disruptive due to the security requirements. President Obama confirmed this in an NBC interview in 2010:  "We love the chapel at Camp David."

President Obama plays basketball at Camp David with senior staff and their family during a retreat on July 18, 2009 

According to the recently published book The Obamas, the First Lady planned a surprise birthday party for the President in 2009. On the first weekend in August, the first family headed to Camp David for a supposedly quiet weekend.  Upon arrival, the President was called to Laurel Lodge for an important phone call. When he walked in, his closest friends from Hawaii and Chicago, some college friends, and David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs shouted "Surprise!". They had all arrived the night before. They spent the weekend playing basketball, pool, golf, shuffleboard, bowling and Scrabble. Gibbs reported to the press upon returning to the White House that the President bowled a 144 that weekend.

Later in August, Boston University basketball player Sherrod Smith got the chance to play basketball with President Obama at Camp David. The story, photo and video about this opportunity is on the BU website. Politico reported that Oprah Winfrey joined the Obama family at Camp David for a "quiet weekend" also some time in 2009.

The President and First Lady celebrated Valentine's Day at Camp David in 2010. Later in April, Michelle  took Malia and Sasha skiing for the day at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania. The President met them at Camp David that evening for an overnight stay. President Obama invited the Cabinet secretaries and their families to Camp David later that year in October.

President Obama, VP Joe Biden, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan's daughter Claire watch a tennis match at Camp David during a Cabinet retreat held in October 2010

After an eight month absence from Camp David, the Obama family celebrated Sasha's tenth birthday at the retreat in June 2011. They returned again a few weeks later for the Fourth of July weekend; also the weekend after that; and again in August after President Obama's 50th birthday; and over Labor Day weekend in September and Columbus Day weekend in October 2011.

President Obama playing with daughter Sasha on her birthday weekend in June 2011

President Obama in his office at Laurel Lodge - August 6, 2011

In May 2012, President Obama hosted the G8 Summit at Camp David. View more photos of the G8 Summit. He returned a couple weeks later in early June for an overnight visit. For the fourth year in a row, the Obama family spent the long weekend prior to the Fourth of July (which is also Malia's birthday) at the presidential retreat. He returned to Camp David the following weekend. President Obama celebrated his 51st birthday there in early August and went back there with his daughters and their friends for a weekend at the end of the month. In mid-October, the President headed to Camp David to prepare for his last presidential debate.

G8 Summit dinner in Laurel Lodge
President Obama meets with leaders in Aspen Lodge

President Obama reads briefing material while meeting with advisors inside Aspen Lodge - October  21, 2012

In January 2013, President Obama told The New Republic in an interview that he goes skeet shooting "all the time" with his guests when he's up at the retreat. Some people were skeptical about this and wanted to see some proof. The White House released the photo below on 2/2/2013.

President Obama took his 30th trip to Camp David the weekend following the Fourth of July holiday to spend time there with his family. On July 26th, he invited his Cabinet members and their families to Camp David for the day. President Obama returned to the presidential retreat for the weekend of August 3rd to celebrate his 52nd birthday on August 4th.

President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. 
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama went on a family trip to Camp David on the weekend of July 18-20.  He returned a couple weeks later (Aug 2-3) to celebrate his 53rd birthday. He went back again for a weekend stay in mid-September.

President Obama's first trip to the retreat in 2015 was for a weekend visit (May 2-3). On May 14th, the President held a summit meeting with representatives from the six nations that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He returned to Camp David the first weekend in August for an early-birthday celebration with his high school, college and Chicago friends.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders prepare to have a group photo with the President outside of the Laurel Cabin at the conclusion of a summit meeting at Camp David, Md., May 14, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama celebrated his 55th birthday at Camp David a few days early over the last weekend in July (7/30-31).


The dates of the visits below came from various news reports and the GPO's "Public Papers of the Presidents" website:

2009:  Feb 7-8; March 7-8; March 21-22; March 27-29; May 23-24; July 3-4; July 18-19; Aug 1-2; Aug 21-23; Sept 2-6; Nov 7-8

2010:  Feb 14; March 26-27; July 2-3; Sept 3-5; Oct 2-3

2011:  June 10-12; July 1-3; July 9-10; Aug 5-7; Sept 2-5; Oct 8-9

2012:  May 18-19; June 2-3, June 30 - July 4; July 6-8; August 4-5; August 24-26; Oct 19-22

2013:  July 5-7; July 26; August 3-4

2014:  July 18-20; August 2-3, September 19-21

2015:  May 2-3; May 14; August 1-2

2016:  July 30-31

As of July 31, 2016
Total number of visits: 39
Total number of days at Camp David: 96

Sources: Huffington Post; CBS News; The Swamp; Politico; Washington Post; Time; New York Times; Obama Foodorama; The Obamas by Jodi Kantor; White House; GPO Obama schedule 2009; GPO Obama schedule 2010; GPO Obama schedule 2011; @MarkKnoller; GPO Obama schedule 2012; GPO Obama schedule 2013; GPO Obama schedule 2014;  The New Republic; Chicago Sun-Times; GPO Obama schedule 2015; GPO Obama schedule 2016


  1. A great resource about this place. I had a hard time finding out information until your blog. Thank you!

  2. Is there any record of him ever shooting skeet, or as he said "do[ing] skeet shooting all the time..."?

    1. No, I have not come across any record of him shooting skeet at Camp David. Nor have I come across any record of him watching a movie there, riding a bike there or eating a hamburger there. I am willing to bet he has done all three. Make that four. He most certainly has gone to the skeet range on at least some of his visits. Why wouldn't he?

    2. He's hates guns and the freedom they represent? Just guessing.

    3. The difference between skeet shooting and riding a bike is..... he's not attempting to ban bikes or bike riding or purchaing bikes at trade shows. The difference is he hasn't made a public statement that he "eats hamburgers all the time at Camp David" but he did tell the American people that he shoots skeet "all the time". Idiot - don't you see the minor difference? Defend even the indefensible - you make me puke.

    4. So skeet shooting is just as normal of an activity as watching a movie, riding a bike, or eating a hamburger? You understand hopefully why people are interested in a photo. Could we at least get him to make a photo op and date the photo from 2009? That would make it more believable. I apologize if you do not understand why the man asked why there was not a photo of him shooting skeet.

    5. He did a photo op of skeet shooting, during a pro gun fake out. I’m assuming it was at camp 3 because of the background. Btw the guard company got to do this once but in typical marine fashion- we used our short barreled shotguns with buck shot- we did not hit one clay pigeon.

  3. No, you wouldn't find a record of him shooting skeet because he is a narcisistic pathological liar, with an enabling national media.

  4. "Why wouldn't he?" Maybe if he didn't want to.

  5. TELL me...what was he shooting at? MOST aim UP IN THE AIR since the clay pigeons are FLUNG up there . Hmmm.....the machine operator must have made him mad.


  6. So the president went to Camp David for 2 days to shoot clays....

  7. I wonder who makes an over/under shotgun that shoots black powder. I think they are mostly smokeless powder now-a-days. And what's the smoke coming out the side?

  8. Why is this an issue? Seriously?

    It's not like whether or not he shoots skeet will change the fact that he's a complete failure as a world leader. 1st term averaged 25k jobs a month. Less than 1/2 of Bush. Oh, but Bush was such a rotten President... Yeah right...

    Every program Little Barry Soetoro promotes goes into a tailspin and fails. Green jobs... our economy... health care... everything this ignoramus touches goes bad. Here's some irony for you; the 1st (1/2) black President is responsible for more blacks being out of work than any other President in 50 years. But hey, as long as he hangs out with the cool kids in Hollywood the media will treat him like a rock star and ignore his actual record.

    Oh! But we have a picture of him with a gun, so that magically changes everything. Here's an idea Mr. President. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. My suggestion? Go back on vacation and stay there for the next 4 years so you'll do less damage.

  9. In the notes of each daily activities, no shooting activities were mentioned. Watching a movie was listed...

    1. The official records published about his Camp David trips usually just include work-related information. Here is the record of that weekend found on the GPO website (link is above in sources section).

      August 4 - In the afternoon, the President traveled to Camp David, MD.

      August 5 - In the afternoon, Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser John O. Brennan notified the President of the shootings in Oak Creek, WI. Later, he was briefed on the shootings via conference call by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert S. Mueller III, White House Chief of Staff Jacob J. "Jack" Lew, and Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser John O. Brennan. He then had separate telephone conversations with Gov. Scott K. Walker of Wisconsin; Mayor Stephen Scaffidi of Oak Creek, WI; and Charanjeet Singh, trustee of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, to express his condolences on the loss of life and injuries caused by the shootings. Later, in the afternoon, the President returned to Washington, DC.

  10. Skeet shooting photo dated Aug 4, 2012. But the article was written on Jan 7th, 2012.

    Is there a simple explanation for this?

    1. I first published this blog post on January 7th, 2012. Since then, I have updated it every time there is news about President Obama at Camp David. I keep a running count of the number of times he goes to the retreat because I get a lot of google searches for "how many times has Obama gone to Camp David". I thought this was a better way to keep track than having a new blog post every time he goes. Eventually, I plan to write a separate post for each of the other 12 Presidents who have been to Camp David.

    2. Why do you need to update the blog every time there is news about President Obama at Camp David? He was only there five times in 2012.

    3. He was there seven times in 2012; a fact which would have been lost had I not updated my blog every time he went there. This blog has a very narrow focus on a topic that most people are generally not that interested in until it pops up in the news cycle. Prior to last week, my Skeet Range post was one of the least-visited pages on this blog.

    4. Congrats on your recent success. Maybe when you get all 12 post up, you can turn it into a coffee table book and sell it.

  11. Just wondering if he hit any of the targets. Since skeet shooting is not exactly a first-time-a-hit sport, could you tell us if Obama was successful.

    1. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 allows for public access to Presidential records through the Freedom Of Information Act(FOIA) beginning five years after the end of the Administration. If I am still writing my blog in January 2022, I will submit an FOIA to find out if he hit the target and will post a final update on this blog page.

  12. I just went on that site. Nothing showing after 2009.....GPO's "Public Papers of the Presidents"

    1. You are correct. If you try to access that page on the GPO site, for some reason it only displays a link to the 2009 records for President Obama. I found the 2010 thru 2013 documents by typing in the url from 2009 and substituting the different year in the appropriate place. I included the full links for 2009 thru 2013 where I list "Sources" at the end of this blog post. I also emailed and asked them to update their web page with the additional years (2010-2013).

  13. Seriously? You intend to portray this bullshit as a factual record of what actually happened?

    1. Well, facts are hard to come by when it comes to Camp David. There is not a lot of official information disclosed and reporters are generally not allowed in unless there is a press conference for a head-of-state visit. So, yes, this is my attempt at portraying activities at Camp David.