President Bush's Weekend Getaway

The president will make his 124th visit to Camp David since taking office.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 12:11 AM

July 6, 2007 — -- As the temperatures rise in Washington, D.C., many in the nation's capital make haste to weekend cottages or nearby beaches.

President George W. Bush is no different.

He will be spending his 61st birthday Friday as he does many of his weekends -- at the secluded, presidential retreat in Maryland known as Camp David.

Bush is continuing a routine that has become a big part of his presidency. Friday marks the president's 124th visit to Camp David since he took office in 2000.

That means Bush has spent more than a year of his presidency at Camp David -- 387 days, either entirely or partially, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio White House correspondent known for keeping meticulous records of the president's vacation days.

"President Bush is among the most frequent visitors to Camp David of all our presidents," said Kenneth T. Walsh, author of "From Mount Vernon to Crawford: A History of Presidents and Their Retreats."

"The presidents feel a tremendous need to escape from the routines and the protocols and the burdens of office," said Walsh, chief White House correspondent for U.S. News and World Report.

"It's outside of the prying eyes of the media and the White House staff, so they can be almost by themselves," said Walsh.

Only one other second-term president has spent so much time at Camp David -- President Ronald Reagan spent virtually every weekend there for eight years.

Reagan made 186 visits to Camp David, spending all or part of 517 days there, according to Knoller. Reagan also used the retreat to host important guests, including former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Other presidents have spent comparatively less time at Camp David than Bush and Reagan.

President George H.W. Bush also frequented Camp David, often taking guests. However he spent less time there than Bush 43 because he lost his second-term bid to Bill Clinton.

Former President Jimmy Carter spent all or part of 376 days there, according to Knoller.

Carter famously brought Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David in 1978, which led to the signing of a peace agreement known as the Camp David Accords.

Camp David is located in Frederick County, Md., 60 miles north of Washington.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, seeking relief from the humid Washington summers, founded the retreat in 1942 and called it "Shangri-La."

Walsh said Roosevelt is actually the record-holder when it comes to presidents who have spent the most time at Camp David.

"Franklin Roosevelt was president for 12 years, and nobody's going to beat his record because he was just in office longer than anybody else," said Walsh.

President Dwight Eisenhower renamed the retreat Camp David after his grandson, David Eisenhower.