Sunday, November 8, 2015

President Nixon at Camp David

President Nixon looks out the window from inside the Aspen Lodge - Nov 22, 1972 (Nixon Library)

One of President Nixon's most notable contributions to Camp David is the swimming pool outside the Aspen Lodge. The existing swimming pool, which was built in the FDR era, was located on the other side of the retreat near the staff area. President Nixon wanted a new pool located in front of the Aspen terrace. This also happened to be the location of the underground bomb shelter which then had to be reinforced for an additional cost of $260K. The new pool cost around $240K, partly because the design called for matching the stone from the Aspen Lodge terrace, which required reopening the nearby quarry. The 40ft x 20ft pool was superheated so it could be used by President Nixon during the winter.

President Nixon added this swimming pool to Camp David 

President Nixon visited Camp David frequently and held many high-level meetings there. "I find that up there on top of the mountain, it is easier for me to get on top of the job" he once told reporters. Nixon visited the presidential retreat over 150 times. You can read about the details of his trips to Camp David in the Nixon Daily Diaries.

Under a 1970 master plan for Camp David, most of the FDR-era cabins were replaced and a new Laurel Lodge was built, which included a presidential office. A study was added to the Aspen Lodge and the screened porch was converted to a dining room. The Aspen bomb shelter was also redecorated with new beds, paint and furnishings.

President Nixon meets with his economic advisers in Augsut 1971 

President and First Lady Pat Nixon in Aspen Lodge at Christmas time in 1971 (Nixon Library)

Nativity scene at Camp David (Nixon Library)

Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, President Nixon, Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr. discuss the Vietnam situation - 11/13/72

Nixon seated with Deputy Secy of Defense William P. Clements, Jr. in Aspen Lodge. 11/22/72 

President Nixon meets with his UN Ambassador George H.W. Bush in the Aspen Lodge in 1972

Nixon wearing his leather Camp David Jacket 12/11/71;    Nixon at Camp David 8/18/72  (White House photos)

In 1973, President Nixon invited Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to Camp David as part of his first visit to the United States. Nixon gave the Soviet leader a 1973 Lincoln Continental as a welcome gift. According to Nixon's memoirs:

"He got behind the wheel and motioned me into the passenger seat. The head of my Secret Service detail went pale as I climbed in and we took off down one of the narrow roads that run around the perimeter of Camp David.... At one point there is a very steep slope with a sign at the top reading, 'Slow, dangerous curve'.... Brezhnev was driving more than 50 miles an hour as we approached the slope. I reached over and said, 'Slow down, slow down,' but he paid no attention. When we reached the bottom there was a squeal of rubber as he slammed on the breaks and made the turn.... 'You are an excellent driver,' I replied. 'I would never have been able to make that turn at the speed at which we were traveling.'" 
 View a short video clip of this event.

President Nixon with Soviet President Brezhnev next to the Aspen pond in June 1973

President Nixon presents Leonid Brezhnev with a 1973 Lincoln Continental in front of the Laurel Lodge

Former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower celebrates her 77th birthday at Camp David in the Aspen Lodge with Julie Nixon Eisenhower, David Eisenhower, and the President and First Lady - 11/10/73 (AP photo)


Nixon Presidential Library; Richard Nixon Foundation; White House; Clements Papers Project; AP; Nixonomics; National Archives; The President is at Camp David (W. Dale Nelson); @NixonLibrary

Monday, September 7, 2015

Wye Oak Fitness Center

Wye Oak fitness center at Camp David

The Wye Oak fitness center offers a broad range of exercise equipment including cardiovascular machines and free weights for strength training. When President Obama hosted the G8 Summit at Camp David in 2012, he invited British Prime Minister David Cameron to work out with him at the gym where they reportedly chatted side-by-side on the treadmills.  In addition to the exercise equipment, the retreat's fitness center also has an indoor pool and basketball court.

President Reagan at the Wye Oak fitness Center  

Indoor pool at the Camp David fitness center

Captain's Cup Dodge Ball at Leatherwood Court at Camp David


Obama opens up Camp David for rustic VIP sleepover
Seabees & President Reagan at Camp David
Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Camp David Recruiting Video

Camp David, officially known as Naval Support Facility (NSF) Thurmont, is an active Navy base staffed by Navy and Marine personnel.  A recruiting team from Camp David travels to various Naval facilities to search for sailors qualified to work at the presidential retreat.

Read more about what it's like to work at Camp David.

**Note: A new recruiting video was released later in 2015.  View it here.

Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Camp David Fire Department #51

One of the original purposes of the fish pond built in front of the Aspen Lodge was to provide a nearby water source in the event of a fire at the President's cabin. Over the years, there have been a number of fires at Camp David. In 1959, the White Pine maintenance building was destroyed in a fire. It was later rebuilt and contains a carpenter shop and a plumbing shop.  In 1969, a fire in President Nixon's small office in the Maple cabin broke out when someone tried to thaw out a frozen water pipe.

Camp David now has a full-time professional fire department  responsible for protecting 130 facilities at the retreat with many of the buildings being historical wooden structures with fireplaces inside.

Inside the Camp David fire station

This fire truck was built by E-One

In 2005, the U.S. Navy nominated the Fire Chief at Camp David for "U.S. Navy Military Fire Officer of the Year".  Some of his accomplishments included:

  • Identified significant equipment shortages on all firefighting apparatus and brought the equipment up to highest standards required for POTUS support.
  • Commanded the crash crew for all POTUS flight operations
  • Developed the plan to transition from the existing, mostly collateral-duty fire brigade concept to a full-time professional fire department with aviation and damage control rated personnel.
  • Identified training requirements for inbound personnel being reassigned to Camp David allowing members to receive Fire Fighter II, ARFF, and Hazardous Materials training prior to reporting for duty.

In 2007, the U.S. Navy nominated a Camp David firefighter for the "DOD Military Firefighter of the Year".  Some of his accomplishments:

  • Implemented a robust training program, created and maintained 13 training records for U.S. Navy Firefighters.
  • Supervised and led 15 Presidential helicopter arrivals and departures which included 75 helicopter training touch and go’s for HMX-1 Helicopter Squadron, H-1’s, H-3’s, SH-60’s, H-46’s, and H-53’s with zero mishaps.
  • Led the Command’s duty fire brigade in structural firefighting operations, aircraft crash and salvage procedures, hazardous material operations and CBRN operations.
  • Established the development and implementation of 42 maintenance shops and guest facility emergency action plans reducing fire department response times by 50 percent.

Camp David Fire Department Challenge Coin

Camp David has entered into a Mutual Aid Memorandum of Agreement with Frederick County Maryland for mutual aid in fire prevention, protection of life and property from fire, firefighting, rescue, and hazardous materials response. This agreement defines the rules for requesting and receiving aid in fighting fires at Camp David and in Frederick County.

Mutual Aid Memorandum of Agreement (full document)

Read more about the Navy Fire and Emergency Services program.


Camp David Tour; IAFC; Commander Navy Installations Command

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vice President Dick Cheney at Camp David on 9/11

Vice President Cheney, Lynne Cheney and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Aboard Marine Two on September 11, 2001

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the National Archives released a collection of photos of Vice President Dick Cheney on September 11, 2001. The photos show Cheney watching television footage of the World Trade Center attack in his office and meeting with senior members of the administration in the PEOC bunker six stories beneath the White House before heading off to Camp David aboard Marine Two.

The Cheneys arrive at Camp David on September 11, 2001

Vice President Dick Cheney in Laurel Lodge at Camp David on September 11, 2001


PBS; National Archives

Secretary of State John Kerry Hosts Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David

Secretary Kerry and Afghan President Ghani arrive at Camp David on March 23, 2015 (State Dept)

On March 23, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry hosted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and other key members of the Afghan Government at Camp David. The topics of discussion included security, economic development, and U.S. support for the Afghan-led reconciliation process. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew also participated in the meetings.

The photo above shows security standing guard as Secretary Kerry and President Ghani head off in their golf carts shortly after arriving at Camp David.

Secretaries Kerry, Carter and Lew and Afghan President Ghani and CEO Abdullah talk to reporters outside Laurel Lodge (State Dept)

Secretaries Kerry, Carter, and Lew eat lunch with Afghan President Ghani and CEO Abdullah in Laurel Lodge (State Dept)

Secretaries Kerry, Carter, and Lew meet with Afghan President Ghani and CEO Abdullah in Laurel Lodge (State Dept)

Secretary Kerry meets one-on-one with Afghan President Ghani in Holly Cabin (State Dept)

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Holly Cabin (State Dept)

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Afghanistan Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi give remarks in the Hickory Theater at Camp David prior to signing a memorandum of understanding for financial capacity building and technical assistance.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rachel McMarr)

Secretary of State John Kerry, joined by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah, addresses reporters at a news conference in the Hackberry Hangar at Camp David (State Dept)

Overhead view of press conference held in the Hackberry Hangar. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rachel McMarr)

From left, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Afghanistan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, Camp David Commanding Officer Cmdr. Russell Rang, NSF Thurmont Senior Enlisted Leader Master Chief Constructionman Joe Maioriello and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani speak at the conclusion of a day of dialogue at Camp David.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rachel McMarr/(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rachel McMarr)

State Department, VOA News, Getty Images, U.S. Navy

Thursday, May 14, 2015

GCC Summit at Camp David

GCC Summit meeting in Laurel Lodge (Pool photo by @CostantiniWW1)

President Obama convened a summit meeting with leaders from the six nations (Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the U.A.E.) that form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on May 14, 2015. The meeting focused on the current instability in the Middle East, including the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The President also wanted to address concerns over a potential nuclear deal with rival Iran.

President Obama departed the White House at 10:40am on Marine One. Accompanying the President were
 Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Josh Earnest and Joe Paulsen. The White House Press Corps assembled at Camp Round Meadow, which is a short distance from Camp David.

Schedule of Events (President's Daily Schedule)

11:05 AM   The President greets leaders and delegations
11:15 AM   The President hosts a working session
12:15 PM    The President hosts a lunch
1:35 PM    The President hosts a second working session
2:40 PM    The President and leaders of delegations take individual photos
2:50 PM    The President and leaders of delegations take a group photo
3:00 PM    The President hosts a third working session
5:00 PM    The President holds a press conference
5:55 PM    The President departs Camp David en route the White House

WH press pool reports; VOA News; Twitter; White House

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Afghan President Karzai at Camp David

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush stand with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan during an arrival ceremony at Camp David, Sunday, August 5, 2007. (White House)

In 2007, President George W. Bush invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Camp David for two days in August to discuss security issues related to Afghanistan. President Karzai was met with the customary formal arrival ceremony for visiting leaders.  Karzai spoke briefly with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates before heading off in Golf Cart One with the President and First Lady.

President Bush behind the wheel of Golf Cart One with First Lady Laura Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai (Getty)

For dinner that evening, the menu included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, cheese and garlic biscuits and pineapple upside down cake. President Bush and President Karzai held a joint press conference the following morning.

Joint press conference held at Camp David on August 6, 2007 (White House)

President Bush and President Karzai (AFP)

Read the official White House transcript of the joint press conference with President Karzai.

Sources:  The White House; Reuters; NPR; Boston Globe; USA Today