Naval Support Facility Thurmont/Camp David
Located 70 miles from the White House in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, NSF Thurmont also known as Camp David was established in 1942 as a place for the President to relax and entertain. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wanted to escape the summer heat of Washington, D.C., and the higher altitude of the Camp provided cool breezes and good security. President Roosevelt called the Camp “Shangri-La” after the mountain kingdom in James Hilton’s book Lost Horizon. It was renamed Camp David in 1953 by President Eisenhower in honor of his grandson.
The Camp is operated by Navy personnel, and troops from the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., provide permanent security. Marine One carries the President during the half-hour helicopter ride from our Nation’s capital. Guests at Camp David can enjoy a pool, putting green, driving range, tennis courts, gymnasium, and the many guest cabins — Dogwood, Maple, Holly, Birch, and Rosebud, to name a few. The presidential cabin is called Aspen Lodge.
Camp David has been the site of many historic international meetings. It was there, during World War II, that President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill planned the Allies’ invasion of Europe. Many historical events have occurred at the Presidential Retreat; the planning of the Normandy invasion, Eisenhower-Khrushchev meetings, discussions of the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam War discussions, and many other meetings with foreign dignitaries and guests. President Jimmy Carter chose the site for the meeting of Middle East leaders that led to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was accustomed to seeking relief from hot Washington, D.C. summers and relaxing on weekends, aboard the presidential yacht “Potomac” or at Hyde Park, NY. In 1942 the U.S. Secret Service were very concerned about the President’s continued use of the “Potomac.” World War II had brought an attack on Pearl Harbor and German U boats close in Atlantic waters. Presidential safety was a concern and Presidential health was also a concern. The muggy climate of Washington, D.C., was considered detrimental to his health, affecting his sinuses. A new retreat, a place to relax, within a 100 mile radius of Washington, D.C. and in the cool mountain air was sought. Several sites were considered but Camp Hi-Catoctin in the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was selected after the President’s first visit on April 22, 1942. A camp was already built on the site and the estimated conversion cost was $18,650. It was also almost 10 degrees cooler than Washington. The camp for federal employee’s families became the camp of one federal employee, the President of the United States. Roosevelt quickly renamed the camp to “Shangri-La” from James Hilton’s 1933 novel, Lost Horizon.
There are 4,400 midshipmen on base.