America's Littlest Diplomats: Sasha and Malia Obama's Summer Vacation

Instead of regular summer camp, the Obama girls travel with Mom and Dad.

ROME, July 9, 2009 -- First lady Michelle Obama thought about sending her daughters away to summer camp, she said recently, but instead decided on another program -- the "Camp Obama" world tour.

"This has been such a, you know, busy year for them," she said, "We're having 'Camp Obama' and, you know, they're going to travel a little more with us, and we're going to do some historic things."

It's not your everyday sleepaway camp, but a world-class adventure: This week, the first tweens have toured Rome's Coliseum and Russia's Kremlin -- exotic locations for sure, but the president said his daughters haven't skipped a beat.

"They're great travelers. Sasha was walking down one of the halls of the Kremlin," he said in an interview with ABC News. "She had her trench coat on, had her pockets in her trench coat. We called her 'Agent 99.' She just looked like she knew where she was going. I thought she was going to pull out her shoe phone."

Just last month, the girls visited Paris and London, with stops at the Eiffel Tower and a shopping trip to the upscale kiddie couture Bonpoint Boutique. In London, they toured Buckingham Palace, where they were greeted by the Queen herself.

"Camp Obama" isn't just an international program. It's included Hawaiian-themed luauson the South Lawn of the White House and ice cream outings with Dad.

The first family also spent a day together doing community service, filling backpacks for Marines at Fort McNair.

Michelle Obama keeps her kids active, she has said, by encouraging them to play outside.

"We've instituted 'Camp Obama' at my house. The television and computers are off all day until after dinner and right before bedtime," she said at a community service event in San Francisco. "My kids are playing, and they don't even know they're getting exercise."

Camp Obama is not cheap. Like any guest of the president, his girls fly for free on Air Force One. But the Obamas pay for every extra room, meal and souvenir.

"It's expensive to travel overseas," said ABC News' Ann Compton. "Hotels have to be high class. They eat in better places. First families, when they do shell out from their own pocket, find international travel really pricey."

But that front row seat to history is priceless.

Compton covered Susan Ford when she followed her father, President Gerald Ford, to China. She recalled that while President Ford was tied up in meetings with China's Chairman Mao, his daughter took center stage.

"She was the one that all the international media traveled with from point to point. She was the face. She was the American ambassador," Compton recalled.

First lady Hillary Clinton brought daughter Chelsea on trips through Asia and North Africa, bringing a daughter to cultures that often value boys over girls.

"It was a major American political statement," Compton said. "In that case, Chelsea Clinton was a lesson to the world on behalf of American policy."

First lady Laura Bush's former chief of staff, Anita McBride, said the trips twins Barbara and Jenna Bush took with their mother had a major impact on how the girls saw the world.

"Imagine that opportunity. Those are experiences of a lifetime. And they also are images that are sent around the world," McBride said. "I think this is personal diplomacy."

Perhaps, in their own way, the Obama daughters are America's littlest diplomats.

Not a bad way to spend a summer vacation.