With the euro under threat and looming nuclear showdowns in Iran and North Korea, the Heidi-like retreat of Camp David in Maryland will come as a welcome break for the beleaguered leaders as they gather for this weekend's Group of 8 summit.
The meeting will kick off a four-day diplomatic extravaganza, with the leaders jetting off to a NATO summit in Chicago as soon as it finishes.
U.S. President Barack Obama chose the secluded idyllic site -- with its cozy log cabins, wooded pathways, bowling alley, and swimming pool -- deliberately to foster a sense of closeness.
The summit is intended to be small and intimate, said White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. The president made a conscious decision to host the G-8 meeting at Camp David for this reason.
The leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Japan, Russia, Italy, and Canada, he added, will hold meetings around the dining-room table of the Laurel Cabin.
So, as the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations prepare to grab their wash bags and head to the woods, what will they be discussing?
Top of the agenda will be the deepening euro-zone debt crisis. As Obama ramps up his campaign ahead of the presidential election this year, he will be desperate to do all he can to stop the euro zone from imploding, damaging international markets and scuttling the fragile U.S. recovery.
Obama will also want assurances from European leaders that, in the worst case, the Greek problem can be contained.
More importantly, Obama will likely push the Europeans into adopting a strategy of growth rather than austerity. Much to the chagrin of Germany's Angela Merkel and delight of Obama's new ally, France's Francois Hollande, who he will meet for the first time just before the summit, experts are predicting some heated discussion between leaders over this issue. Perhaps Russia's Dmitry Medvedev and Japan's Yoshihiko Noda can go roast s'mores or take a dip in the pool while Obama referees a grudge match between the Europeans over the merits of austerity vs. growth?
And as Athens looks increasingly likely to leave the euro zone, the Europeans are also likely to seek guarantees from the Japanese and Americans that they are ready to help prop up the ailing currency if the previously unthinkable euro-zone exit by Greece actually happens.
The ongoing situation in Iran will take up Friday night's dinner-table conversation. With the issue high on the U.S. president's foreign-policy agenda, and with it being another key election talking point, Obama will be pressing for a hard line against Tehran ahead of crunch negotiations in Baghdad next Wednesday. In line with the Europeans, who have enacted a damaging embargo prohibiting the continent's shipping insurers from guaranteeing Iranian ships, the allies are expected to clash with Medvedev over the issue, who on Thursday reiterated Russia's opposition to armed intervention in the region.
Syria, North Korea
The assembled leaders are also expected to squeeze in discussions about the armed uprising in Syria, and the prospect of a new nuclear test in North Korea. Once again, Europe and the U.S. likely will advocate a robust response against Bashar al-Assad's regime, while the Russia probably will warn against any intervention by outside powers.