Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Weekend Meeting at Camp David

Memo inviting staff to Camp David

June 1975, White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen held a weekend planning session at Camp David. The "Press Office Improvement Meeting" agenda included a discussion of ways to improve daily press briefings, the long range plans for the press office, and a review of operations. The invited staff members received an information packet about Camp David which included maps, cabin information, and activities. These documents were scanned and archived in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

Driving directions to Camp David from the Washington DC area

Camp David map - Guest cabins and recreational facilities

Information about Camp David included in the staff memo (Transcribed below)


Communications - All Camp David telephones are served directly by a switchboard which is manned twenty-four hours a day. The operator will assist you in placing any calls. Direct lines to Washington and the White House are available.

Medical Assistance - A military hospital corpsman is on duty at all times to render first aid assistance. He is not a physician but is well qualified to provide emergency treatment or minor medication or assistance.

Transportation - Should you desire transportation or directions on Camp, in the local area, or to Washington, we can assist you.

Family Cribs - Cribs, strollers, high chairs, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards are available from Chestnut.

Food Service - Stewards in Aspen Lodge and Laurel Lodge are available for food or refreshments. Refreshments can be provided in the cabins upon request. Bills will be forwarded to you by the White House Staff Mess.

Mail Service - Letters and packages can be mailed for you. Stamps are available in the Camp Office.

Photographs - For security reasons, photographs are not allowed on the Camp. The use of cameras must be cleared with the White House.

Babysitters - Babysitter service is not available at the Camp. Parents are requested to provide supervision of children at all times. Occasionally it is possible to arrange for teenagers in the area to care for smaller children in the cabins.

Parental Supervision - Parents are requested to assist us by supervising children at all times. The pinsetters, golf carts, snowmobiles, swimming pools, and other recreation equipment can be hazardous and require supervision by a person 16 years of age or older.

Weather - The Camp's elevation, nearly 2000 feet, causes weather conditions which are often completely different than the Baltimore- Washington area. Temperatures are normally 10-15 degrees colder year round. Snow and ice are common in the Winter and often cause hazardous driving conditions.


The following recreation facilities are available in season for guest use. Should you desire to use these facilities, please call Chestnut.

Movies - A complete list of motion pictures is included in this book. Qualified operators are available to show movies in Aspen, Laurel, and Holly.

Bowling - Two bowling alleys with automatic pinsetters are located in Hickory Lodge, the Camp recreation building. Balls, shoes, and socks are provided at the alley. For safety reasons, children under 16 must be supervised.

Swimming Pool - There are two pools on Camp - the Aspen Pool is located to the front of the Presidential Lodge at Aspen and the Staff Pool is located in the northwestern part of the Camp, behind the water tower. Bath houses are located adjacent at each pool. A sauna is located in the Aspen bath house. Both pools are heated and in use from early May to October. Swim fins and masks and a limited number of bathing suits are available. As lifeguards are not available, parental supervision is requested when children use the pools.

Skeet - A skeet range is available on Camp. Shot guns and ammunitions and qualified personnel are available. One-half hour notice is requested to properly set-up the equipment.

Tennis Courts - Two tennis courts are available. Shoes, rackets, and balls are provided at the courts.

Trampoline - A ground level mounted trampoline is located adjacent to the Staff Swimming Pool.
Golf - A golf green with three tees is located in front of the Aspen Lodge. Clubs and balls are available.

Snowmobiles - Two snowmobiles are available at the Field House. Guests are requested to restrict use to the Field House area for safety and noise. Safety helmets are provided. To safely operate snowmobiles, the operator- must be at least 16 years of age. Guests are requested to maintain moderate speeds. Instructions on proper use and operation are available from Chestnut.

Sleds and Toboggans - Sleds, toboggans, and sliding disks are available.

Skiing - The Charnita Ski Slope just north of Emmitsburg, Maryland about thirty minutes distant. The season is from 1 December to 15 March.  Rope tows, chair lifts, instructions, and rentals are available. For further information or transportation, contact Chestnut.

Pool Tables - Pool tables are located in the Hickory Lodge and Holly. Cues and balls are available.

Bicycles - Bicycles are provided at Aspen and Laurel Lodges for the guests.

Golf Carts - Two electric golf carts are available for guest use within the Camp. To safely operate golf carts, the operator must be at least 16 years of age.

Archery - An archery range can be set up near the Field House
on request. Bows, arrows, and targets are available.

Playground - A playground is located between Aspen and Laurel. In addition to playground equipment, an outdoor badminton court, horseshoes, and croquet are located at the playground.

Shuffleboard - Outdoor shuffleboard courts are located adjacent to the Staff Pool.

Indoor Games - An assortment of indoor adult and children games such as Chess, Checkers, Pinochle, Scrabble, Puzzles, etc., are available and may be obtained from the stewards or by calling Chestnut. Bridge cards are available at Aspen and Laurel.

Hiking - Hiking within Camp David is encouraged. Hiking trails and nature trails are also available in the Catoctin Mountain Park. Park Rangers are available for guided tours of historical landmarks and nature trails.


Presidential Lodge

The Presidential Lodge was constructed on its present site in 1942. The Lodge was modeled after a sketch prepared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. During President Eisenhower's second term in office, the Lodge was remodeled and named Aspen. Aspen Lodge is reserved exclusively for the President and First Family.

Guest Cabins

Aspen Area:

In the immediate vicinity of Aspen Lodge are four guest cabins with facilities as follows:
  • Dogwood which has two double bedrooms and a living room
  • Birch which has two double bedrooms and a living room
  • Witch Hazel which has two double bedrooms
  • Maple which has two double bedrooms and a sitting room

Laurel Area:

Laurel Lodge is located just north of Aspen and contains an office for the President, a dining room and two lounge areas. Laurel is used for guest dining, movies and to accommodate conferences. Surrounding Laurel are several guest cabins:

  • Linden which has a small combination double bedroom/lounge
  • Walnut which has two double bedroom and a small lounge
  • Hawthorn which has a double bedroom and a lounge equipped with fold down beds for conversion into a second bedroom
  • Sycamore which has a double bedroom and a lounge equipped with fold down beds for conversion into a second bedroom
  • Hemlock which has a small combination double bedroom/lounge
  • Red Oak which has two bedrooms, living room, and a kitchenette (under construction).


Southwest of the Aspen Lodge is the cabin Rosebud. This cabin contains two double bedrooms and a living room.

The original documents shown above can be found here.  The documents also contain notes from the meeting which are pretty entertaining if you are interested in the subject matter: 
"By starting the press conference at 10:30 AM, you'll find that most reporters are even less prepared than they are at 11:30".
"Networks must understand in advance that while the entire briefing may be taped, nothing could be aired without the express permission of the Press Secretary. This would have to be an iron-clad agreement because there will be times when the nets really want to air something
that makes the White House look like it is run by bumbling amateurs, and they will have to accept our decision without a lot of argument."

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