The Naval Support Facility Thurmont, popularly known as Camp David, is the rustic 125-acre (0.5 km²) mountain retreat of the President of the United States. Camp David is part of the Catoctin Mountain Park recreational area in Frederick County, Maryland, north of Washington, D.C., about southwest of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and about east of Hagerstown, Maryland.
First known as Hi-Catoctin, Camp David was originally built as a camp for federal government employees and their families, by the WPA, starting in 1935, opening in 1938. In 1942 it was converted to a presidential retreat by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and renamed Shangri-La. Camp David received its present name from Dwight Eisenhower, in honor of his grandson, Dwight David Eisenhower II.
The Camp is very isolated and quiet. The compound consists of several cabins hidden throughout the woods, only connected by small mulch walking paths. They are all named after various trees, plants, and flowers.
Camp David (or Naval Support Facility Thurmont) is a United States Navy installation. The Camp is commanded by an O-5 (Commander's Rank.) Sailors are mostly Seabees and most officers are in the civil engineering field. The Navy Seabee Detachment does maintenance and beautification. The sailors must receive a "Yankee White" security clearance, which involves passing the most rigorous background check conducted by the Department of Defense (DOD). The sailors are hand-picked for their service at Camp David, and represent the best of the U.S. Navy. Some of the sailors include: grounds and maintenance personnel, electricians, carpenters, corpsman, and the President's cooks (mess specialists).
The Camp is alleged to be one of the most secure facilities in the world, as reported by a Department of Defense journal in 1998. The Facility is guarded by one of the United States Marine Corps' most elite units, MSC-CD (Marine Security Company, Camp David). Each Marine is hand-picked from the infantry and sent through a battery of psychological and physical tests. The chosen Marine must then undergo specialized security training at the Marine Corps Security Forces School in Chesapeake, Virginia. The candidate then reports to the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. Assuming the Marine successfully completes all of his schooling, he still must receive the "Yankee White" security clearance. Only then will the candidate be eligible for the assignment at Camp David. After 12 months of service at Camp David, a Marine is awarded the Presidential Service Badge. Typically tours at Camp David are 18–24 months.
Analogous facilities include: