The Escapees RV Club was founded on July 4, 1978, by Joe and Kay Peterson. There
was no grand idea of what the club would become; it was started through Kay's
column in Woodall's Trailer Travel
magazine. She asked the question that, if a
club was started to help people enjoy full-time RVing, would anyone be
interested in joining? She received a couple of dozen responses and began to
think big. One day there might be one or two hundred people in the club! Today
there are over 32,000 member-families.
Those who joined the club
were immediately asked to suggest a name for the club. Escapees was submitted by
Harry and Peg Lewis, SKP #22. The name Escapees was chosen because it signifies
escaping from the conventional lifestyle to a more adventurous one. The acronym
"S-K-P" (say it fast and it sounds like Escapee) was adopted, and many members
began calling themselves SKiPs. It has become a commonly used nickname.
The first official
publication was a 5-page newsletter, hand-cranked from a portable printer and
mailed to 164 members. Today it is an 96-page magazine mailed every two months
to over 50,000 members.
The first Escapade was held
in February 1979 near Bakersfield, California. Twenty-four families, including
nine children, attended. Today Escapade is attended by as many as 1,500 members. Escapades are
open to all regardless of whether or not they are members of Escapees.
Rainbow's End, in
Livingston, Texas, became the Escapees headquarters in April 1984. Located in
East Texas, it is six miles from Livingston and approximately 70 miles north of
Houston. Rainbow's End was the first park created, followed by six more Rainbow
Parks, eleven SKP Co-Op parks, and three Escapees Rainbow Parks Unlimited parks.
Today there are over 150 employees. In addition to the permanent staff, there
are thousands of volunteers who play a major part in the Escapees success story.
These volunteers help build the home-base parks, and they perform many tasks
that enable the parking fees to remain low. Volunteers serve as volunteer club representatives (VCRs) who travel around the
country, helping with activities of more than 50 individual chapters.