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Escapees RV Club – Then and Now – 40 Years of Community

Escapees RV Club First Newsletter

Roots of Escapees RV Club

July 4, 1978

The Escapees RV Club was founded by Joe and Kay Peterson. Joe and Kay were traveling with their children full-time in an RV and wanted to connect and keep in touch with others like them.

Postal mail and landline telephones–the primary means of communication at the time–were difficult to navigate for full-timers. To fill this need, Joe and Kay founded Escapees RV Club and created the club’s first official publication on August 15, 1978. The five-page newsletter was hand-cranked from a portable printer and distributed to 164 members. This newsletter became the spark that ignited the way for Escapees to become one of the largest and most recognized clubs for RV enthusiasts with more than 60,000 members 40 years later!

Joe and Kay
Kay and Joe Peterson - Founders of Escapees RV Club
Original Escapees RV Club Logo

The Escapees name was submitted by original members Harry and Peggy Lewis who also created the acronym S-K-P which is still widely used to this day.

The First Escapees Newsletter

1978 Versus 2018 

It is no coincidence that the club was founded on the Fourth of July or that Joe and Kay ultimately landed on Escapees for the name, as many RVers choose to RV for a sense of freedom and independence over the traditional stationary status quo.

To no surprise, this concept of wanderlust still lives on today stronger than ever for good reason.

Most people only get to enjoy the history and beauty of America during their vacations, but as an RVer this can be your daily life. From watching Aspen leaves changing colors during the Colorado fall to watching the Pacific waves crash onto the California shore. To feel the awe of an Arizona desert sunset or watch barges lazily passing up and down the Mississippi River. 

What other lifestyle grants you a magnificent ever-changing backyard of your choosing just outside your door?

Craig and Carolyn sound like they get it!

The boom of the technology era has led to cell phones, internet accessibility, and social media which created many changes in the way things are done today. And staying connected to your friends and family is undoubtedly easier than it has ever been before. But, even though a lot has changed you can see that many of the same concerns still exist today.

As you can see in this original newsletter, the Escapees members of 1978 faced many of the same issues and held the same interests as today’s modern nomads.

Extensive travelers to this day may find themselves in regulatory gray areas when it comes to typically routine laws that govern things like health insurance, licensing, domicile and even the basic logistics of everyday necessities such as parking, mail delivery, banking, and social connections. The simple truth is that as RVers, we are unique, and our unconventional lifestyles don’t always fit the more traditionally defined standards of society.

Just look at this snippet from the first newsletter discussing health insurance…

To this day, this topic is one of the hottest among full-time and part-time RVers who are pre-Medicare. PPO plans have nearly been exhausted even in the most preferred states full-time RVers, such as Texas, Florida, and South Dakota. This has led many to rely on employer insurance options or finding alternative plans such as Escapees Healthcare Solutions that supply an ACA compliant substitute.

Many assume working from the road or raising a family while nomadic back in 1978 to be a rarity, but it could be more of a perception than a fact. Daily life may look different in today’s world due to technology advances that make living on the road easier and allow more people to purse their travel dreams, but working from the road and raising a family has always been an important segment of the RVing community as explained in this original newsletter excerpt.

Escapees continues to address active and adventurous RVers with its lifestyle group called Xscapers.

Xscapers was created March 8, 2015 with the goal of maintaining Escapees roots of providing services for working-age RVers and is dedicated to enabling their dreams of working and sharing life on the road.

And surprise, much like now, RVers 40 years ago had conversations about sharing ideas of how to generate income from the road to sustain their nomadic and free-spirited lifestyle.

Many of these jobs were related to construction or the hospitality industry and these job opportunities still heavily embrace the mobile workforce 40 years later.

Today, technology has created the ability for remote positions of all kinds to become available and we find ourselves in the age of entrepreneurship and small business owners among the RV community.

Much like 40 years ago, Escapees continues to support this segment of RVers with the creation of RVer Job Exchange, accounting tips, educational resources, and community sharing.

An RV Support Network is Critical to This Day

 Escapees has, and always will be, freedom driven. Creating and providing services that cater directly to your needs so that you may live a successful, comfortable and carefree RV lifestyle.

Mail Service
The Early Days of the Escapees Mail Service

The Escapees mail forwarding service created in 1985 helps travelers receive their mail on the road and provides RVers with a domicile address to call home. Today, the “how to’s” of getting your mail is still one of the most common discussions. 

We all need a place to park and the Escapees parks system was built so that you could always have a place to lay your head at night. 

That first 5-page newsletter has evolved into the award-wining Escapees Magazine filled with educational resources where RVers can share their experiences and knowledge. 

Escapees RV Club continues to take the protection of RVers’ rights very seriously and is one of the most conscientious RVer consumer advocates in the RV industry. 

Most importantly, our community bond is the driving force of Escapees through its Chapters, Birds-of-a-Feather (interest groups), HOPs (theme-related events), Convergences, and rallies.

Even though it is easy to get swept away in social media, nothing replaces sharing a space and having an in-person conversation with someone who shares the same passions as you.

The Next Forty Years

It is without a doubt that many things will change as we look forward to the next 40 years. However, we believe many of these same conversations and core support services will continue to be a part of every RVers’ journey.

3 Generations of Escapees Leadership

With the welcoming of our 40th year, and as the third generation of Escapees leadership, we pledge to uphold the values and traits of Joe, Kay, Bud, Cathie and members who have made Escapees the organization it is today. 

We are proud to make these promises for the next 40 years and beyond.

  • We promise to be honest in everything we do. We will always put what is “right” and most beneficial for RVers and our Escapees family before becoming the largest or most profitable.
  • We promise to always remain inclusive. It doesn’t matter what your race, religion, political views, income, rig type, or whether you are a weekender or a full-timer. If you have a passion for travel and respect for others, you will always be welcomed with an Escapees hug and have a place to call home.
  • We promise to continue to seek new services and benefits to simplify the RV lifestyle, without jeopardizing our values or moral compass, all while providing a welcoming and friendly experience from Escapees staff.
  • We promise to continue the long history of protecting your rights and advocating on behalf of all RVers. While we may not win every battle, we will do our best to ensure that the freedom this lifestyle affords is never hindered.
  • Lastly, we promise to keep the legacy in which Joe and Kay set forth alive and to carry the torch that will lead the way in the RV industry. We will maintain our caring and sharing attitude and embolden our community as it is the heart and soul of Escapees RV Club.

May all our paths cross somewhere on down the road.

Travis and Mel

Author

Melanie and Travis Carr

Travis is the grandson of the Escapees Founders Joe and Kay and no stranger to the RV lifestyle or the club. Melanie was introduced to the lifestyle at a young age through family vacations and has always had a passion for travel.
In 2015, Travis and Melanie founded a group within Escapees called Xscapers to better cater to the working-aged RVer. They now represent the third generation of family leadership as the President and Vice President of Escapees RV Club.

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