The biggest life-altering events are often set in motion by an innocent simple action. This was certainly true for Kay and Joe Peterson who had been on the road for eight years in the early 1970s but had met very few full-time RVers like themselves. They longed for those connections socially, but also to share information that would make the RV lifestyle better for themselves and others. So they started mailing out a newsletter to a small list of subscribers. They never dreamed this simple act would lead to the creation of the first club for full-time RVers – Escapees – and that 43 years later, it would boast more than 100,000 members as one of the most active and best-loved RV clubs in the world.
What makes Escapees stand out from other RV clubs?
They’ve remained true to their vision: providing a complete support network for all RVing enthusiasts. While other clubs are often (for financial benefit) supporting other arms of the RV industry – manufacturers, dealerships, campgrounds, and camping supply stores – everything Escapees does is in support of us – the RVers. I believe they’ve managed this, in part, because the club has remained family-owned and operated – currently with the Petersons’ children and grandchildren at the helm.
One profoundly impressive aspect of Escapees is their advocacy. Since 1998 Escapees has been representing RVers in the courts, fighting for our rights on issues such as full-time RVers’ right to vote, protecting overnight parking, and unfair RV specific taxes. They provide monthly updates on the progress of their current advocacy missions, which benefit us all, whether we’re a club member or not.
Many unique member benefits
It’s difficult to list all the reasons to join but I’ll make an attempt.
- Education: National rallies, RVers boot camp, an online university, webinars, and a discussion forum.
- Practical: Mail forwarding service, domicile help for full-time RVers, informative articles online and in a print magazine, RVers job exchange, and Smart Weigh – certified scales to determine if your RV’s weight is distributed safely.
- Social: Local chapters, Birds of a Feather (special interest groups), organized gatherings, rallies, year-round convergences, Head Out Programs (organized guided trips).
- RV Parking and Camping: Eighteen Escapees Rainbow and Co-op parks for members throughout the USA with all the amenities of a full-service RV resort where boondocking sites are $5 to $8 and hookups $15 to $20 per night; discounts at other campgrounds; access to the Days End Directory (member-sourced boondocking spots)
- Xscapers: Resources and social events geared to a younger generation of full-time RVers who are traveling (often with families) while working on the road.
- C.A.R.E: A registered charity in Livingston, Texas, providing a safe haven with professional assistance at affordable prices for members whose travels are permanently ended because of age or temporarily interrupted because of health problems.
At only $49.95 per year, an Escapees membership is a must, especially if you’re a full-timer or new to RVing. We are neither; although we travel for extended periods, we have a home base. We joined Escapees many years ago and chose it because, at the time, it was the only RV club that openly condoned and promoted boondocking, which was already our preferred way to camp.
While our decision to join was not, perhaps, life-altering, our membership has enhanced our travels considerably, most significantly through the added fun and friendships we find whenever we stay at an Escapees RV park or attend Escapade – the club’s annual national rally.
Until a global pandemic put a damper on it, we could usually count on a hug replacing a handshake as the standard greeting among members – a tradition that, I’m sure, dates back to Kay and Joe. Regardless of whether that gesture will ever return (or handshakes for that matter), I’m confident a sense of the warm and welcoming community they built will persist. We love Escapees and plan to remain members for life.
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