A Retreat Fit For A President

HOME Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5
Journal Timeline Movie Movie Movie Intro
Journal Map Connections Floorplan Journal


Suggested Grade Levels: Middle and High School
Time period: During the life of President Herbert C. Hoover (1874-1964), with an emphasis on his Presidency (1929-1933)
Topics: President Herbert Hoover, The Great Depression, Conservation and Preservation, the American presidency


Rapidan Camp, the summer retreat established by President and Mrs. Herbert Hoover during his administration is located within the boundaries of Shenandoah National Park. The camp has recently been restored to its 1929 appearance and is an excellent reflection of not only its era, but also of President Hoover.

Through a combination of short movies and interactives, the unit covers the events leading up to the Great Depression and describes Hoover's approach to the crisis. Students then delve into the basis of Hoover's personal and political philosophies and take an in-depth look at how the camp itself reflects them. Recognizing Rapidan as a tangible example of those important philosophies helps students understand the importance of history and the places that preserve it.

This unit is the first in a two-part curriculum that connects the nation's history with the unique resources of Shenandoah National Park. The second part is CCC: A New Deal to Rebuild a Nation. Also intended for middle and high school students, it covers the subsequent time period of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency and his political philosophies in contrast to Hoover's.

At the conclusion of the lessons, the students will be able to
  1. present a journal with recorded insights, ideas, and revelations about Hoover and his impact on their world.
  2. identify historical, social, political, and technological changes in America from the 1870s to the 1960s.
  3. locate Rapidan Camp and determine the location’s significance to the Hoovers, the local residents, and the country.
  4. verbally, intellectually, graphically, and physically make the connection between the Hoovers, their Rapidan Camp, their conservation and humanitarian ethics, and their belief in personal responsibility.
  5. explain how historic preservation was accomplished at Rapidan Camp while securing the historical integrity of the site.
  6. synthesize the Hoover information and predict what future generations will/should/could gain from the Hoovers and their Rapidan Camp experience.

Virginia Standards of Learning Addressed:
Skills: VS.1, USII.1, CE.1, VUS. 1, GOVT.1
The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship, including the ability to:

  • compare and contrast historical events;
  • interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives;
  • make connections between past and present;
  • analyze and interpret maps to explain relationships among landforms, water features, climatic characteristics, and historical events
  • analyze political cartoons, political advertisements, pictures, and other graphic media;
  • evaluate and discuss issues orally and in writing;
  • identify a problem, weigh the expected costs and benefits and possible consequences of proposed solutions, and recommend solutions, using a decision-making model;
  • formulate an informed, carefully reasoned position on a community issue;
  • select and defend positions in writing, discussion, and debate.

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the social, economic, and technological changes of the early twentieth century by

d) identifying the causes of the Great Depression and its impact on Americans.

The student will demonstrate knowledge of citizenship and the rights, duties, and responsibilities of citizens by

e) evaluating how civic and social duties address community needs and serve the public good.

The student will demonstrate knowledge of key domestic events of the 1920s and 1930s by

b) assessing the causes and consequences of the stock market crash of 1929;

c) explaining the causes of the Great Depression and its impact on the American people;

National Council for the Social Studies:
Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Virginia Standards of Learning

National Standards for History Grades 5-12

How To Use This Lesson
This curriculum is a web-based interactive program. Each lesson contains an introductory movie and an interactive component. Throughout the program students are asked to respond in a variety of ways in a journal. The journal can then be used by the teacher to assess the students' understanding and assimilation of the material presented.

The program can be used in its entirety; each lesson builds on the previous. However, if time is limited, teachers are encouraged to excerpt the parts most relevant. The entire curriculum is accessible through Shenandoah National Park's website, so students could continue the activities on their own.

Internet access and journals (or some way for students to respond) are necessary. The program contains narration, music, and other sounds so speakers are important and if the program is to be done in a lab or classroom situation earphones are recommended.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


(540) 999-3500

Contact Us