Distance Learning

A Retreat Fit for a President

Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Social Studies
State Standards:
Virginia Standards of Learning
VS. 1, USII. 1, USII. 6, CE. 1, CE. 3, VUS. 1, VUS. 10, GOVT. 1

Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, bought the land for his summer weekend retreat in 1929, during the first peaceful days of his administration. The camp provided Hoover and his wife much needed rest and recreation during the later difficult years, after the stock market crash in October 1929 signaled the beginning of the worst depression the nation had ever known.   


Through a combination of short films 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.

The program is divided into five lessons:

  • Lesson 1 – Historical Context
  • Lesson 2 – Finding Rapidan Camp
  • Lesson 3 – Herbert Hoover's Connections
  • Lesson 4 – Understanding Restoration and Preservation
  • Lesson 5 – The Legacy of the President Hoover


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.

How to Participate

There are five parts, each containing a short movie, an interactive element, and suggested journaling or discussion topics and activities. Ideally, students would start at the beginning and work their way through the curriculum over the course of several class periods, or as the topic of each part becomes relevent to the teacher's syllabus.

There are many opportunities for teacher-led whole-class and student-led small group discussions, as well as assignments and projects. Additionally, teachers can pick and choose specific elements to supplement their current lesson plans.

Begin A Retreat Fit for a President 

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This project was funded through fee revenue and donations to the Shenandoah National Park Trust.

Last updated: September 27, 2021