Question: Did you know that the presidential retreat in Frederick County had two different names before being named Camp David?
It’s true! Camp David was originally Camp Hi-Catoctin, a family camp for federal employees. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was accustomed to seeking relief from hot Washington, D.C. summers and relaxing on weekends yet his safety and health were both concerns. 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 in Washington, D.C. 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” for the fictional Himalayan paradise in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon.
President Eisenhower renamed the retreat, after he took office in 1953, “Camp David,” after his grandson. Camp David continues to serve as the Presidential Retreat today. It is a private, secluded place for recreation, contemplation, rest, and relaxation. Every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has made use of the retreat.
Source: National Park Service