Camp David is a private retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland which is set aside for the use of the President of the United States. The site is located close enough to Washington, DC, to be conveniently accessible to the President and First Family, but it has a remarkably isolated and remote feel, according to people who have been privileged enough to visit. While the facility is designated as a retreat, it is often used for work, with guests of the United States being hosted at Camp David for conferences and workshops to discuss issues of international importance.
The site was given over to the use of the President in 1942, and christened Shangri-La by President Roosevelt. President Eisenhower later renamed the site after his grandson David, and the site is officially known as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont. Camp David is maintained and staffed by the Department of the Navy, with a Marine guard in place to protect the facility. The budget for the maintenance of the camp also comes from the Navy.
In a sense, Camp David is like a Presidential summer camp. In addition to the main lodge, the site has a number of guest cabins, along with facilities for sports, and a network of trails and gardens. All told, the complex covers around 200 acres (81 hectares), and it is widely regarded as one of the most secure facilities in the world, thanks to the elite protective guard and multiple barriers of fencing around the site.
Presidents spend varying amounts of time at Camp David. The site tends to be especially popular in the summer months, when the cool mountain air is a refreshing change from the sometimes oppressive heat of Washington. Some Presidents have spent a great deal of time at the site, while others have preferred to visit other locations for private retreats. Many Presidents have also contributed to the overall look and feel of the facility with an assortment of renovations and innovations.
This site is also popular as a location for hosting conferences and discussions. The remote location makes it easier to focus on serious issues without outside influences, and it can make for more private, detailed discussions between international leaders. The site has been used as a neutral site for the purpose of working out international treaties like the Camp David Accords, and for informal conferences between the President and heads of state from around the world.