Arriving at Camp David for the first time was an exhilarating and, at the same time, humbling experience. It was here that President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill planned the D-Day Invasion. President Eisenhower met here with Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev. And it was here that President Carter hammered out the peace agreement between Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel that became known as the Camp David Accords.
A Marine helicopter picked up my family and me in Washington, D.C. and a half hour later we were at the Presidential retreat. Camp David is part of Catoctin Mountain Park, north of D.C. in Maryland. We landed next to the skeet range and then drove to the Presidential lodge. There are about fifteen separate cottages for housing guests on the side of a small mountain. The one for the President is called the Aspen Lodge and it sits in front of a swimming pool, a driving range and a putting green. The retreat is operated by the Navy, with the Marines providing security. It is easy to walk from the lodge to meeting places, although golf carts, bicycles and Segways are available. President Reagan liked to ride his horse on the nature trials, as did President Kennedy and the current President Bush. I can tell already that I will be taking long hikes. There are beautiful stands of oak, poplar, ash and more. FDR was the first President to use Camp David. The next four presidents used it mostly for relaxation, but President Nixon put in modern conveniences and used it extensively for business meetings and for hosting foreign dignitaries. The first President Bush hosted the first Camp David wedding when his daughter, Dorothy, was married here in 1992.