The Escapees RV Club, headquartered in Livingston, Texas, will host the 53rd Escapade at the Cam-Plex Multi-event Center, in Gillette Wyo., June 30–July 5.
According to a press release, Escapade is a five-day event delivering an extensive lineup of educational workshops centered around the RV lifestyle. This year marks the 35th birthday of the club, founded by Joe and Kay Peterson in 1978. The milestone will be honored with a birthday banquet on July 4 sponsored by Paul Evert’s RV Country, followed by a fireworks extravaganza.
The first Escapade was held in Bakersfield, Calif., in 1979, with 24 families attending. The event now attracts as many as 1,500 attendees from across the nation and internationally.
According to Escapees, the Escapade is the premier opportunity to learn or refine the nuances of a lifestyle that continues to attract devotees while also meeting likeminded people enjoying the RV adventure. With almost 50,000 active family members, Escapees RV Club members “share a special bond and a passion for RV travel,” according to the release.
On July 3, Escapees RV Club will host a complimentary community appreciation day at the Cam-Plex as a special thankyou to the surrounding communities. Area residents are invited to visit from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to learn more about the club, its members and RVing. Guests may participate in the seminars and peruse the wide selection of RV-related products available in the exhibitor and market areas.
In keeping with the Escapees mind-set of giving something back, the club will support Gillette and the surrounding community with a food drive for the Campbell County Council of Community Services during the event. In addition, Escapade delivers as much as a million dollars into the local economy while attendees shop, dine and enjoy the charm of the local areas.
Learn more about the 53rd Escapade at http://www.escapees.com/escapade.
Livingston, Texas-based Escapees RV Club has launched a new program to honor America’s heroes, according to a press release.
“We are thrilled to launch this new program that’s been years in the making,” said Escapees President Cathie Carr. “Not only do we honor our honorably discharged veterans with a substantial discount, but active duty military members can join the club for free.”
Effective Nov. 11, honorably discharged U.S. veterans will receive a 5% discount on Escapees RV Club dues (whether new or existing Escapees members), Escapees Mail Service dues, club products and Escapade admission. Active duty U.S. military will receive a free membership in the club for as long as they are in active duty.
Proper identification is required and more information can be found on the Escapees website: www.escapees.com/veteran or by calling the club at (888) 757-2582.
The 52nd Escapade begins Sept. 16 at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Mo.
The Escapees RV Club, headquartered in Livingston, Texas, hosts this event annually and expects over 1,200 attendees. Escapades are five-day, fun-filled, informational events centered on the RV way of life and are often referred to as a “rally,” according to a news release Escapade delivers an extensive line-up of educational and lifestyle presentations for the RV enthusiast, as well as evening entertainment and socials.
For the serious RVer, it’s also a great way to meet like-minded folks enjoying a “home on wheels” adventure. With over 50,000 active family members, Escapees RV Club members share a passion for RV travel. You may meet as strangers, but you will part as more than friends.
Wednesday, Sept. 19, Escapees RV Club hosts a complimentary community appreciation day at the Missouri State Fairgrounds as a thank-you to the locality of Sedalia. Area residents are invited to visit from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to learn more about the club and the RV lifestyle. Guests may participate in seminars, craft show-and-sell, and peruse the wide selection of RV-related products available in the exhibitor and market areas.
Opening ceremonies take place Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. Crafts sessions, line-dancing, RV driving classes, travel, computer and RV technical presentations, and daily socials round out the busy week of Escapade. Escapees RV Club and Adventure Caravans bring comedian Yakov Smirnoff to entertain Escapade attendees on Sunday evening, and world-acclaimed tenor and showman George Dyer performs on Monday night.
The club supports the Sedalia community with a food drive to benefit Open Door Benevolent Ministries during the event. Escapade delivers as much as a million dollars into the local economy as attendees shop, dine, and enjoy the local hospitality that Sedalia graciously extends to participants.
Learn more at http://www.escapees.com/escapade/2012/.
The Escapees RV Club, headquartered in Livingston, Texas, will host the 52nd Escapade at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia Sept. 16-21.
According to a press release, a new series of seminar topics will focus on the full-time lifestyle in addition to an extensive lineup of educational workshops and lifestyle presentations for the RV enthusiast. The Escapees RV Club currently has almost 60,000 members.
The gathering will also feature a number of activities, including evening entertainment, crafts sessions, line-dancing, RV driving classes, travel, computer, RV technical presentations and daily socials. Escapees RV Club and Adventure Caravans will bring renowned comedian Yakov Smirnoff to entertain attendees Sunday evening and world-acclaimed tenor and showman, George Dyer, will perform Monday night.
In keeping with the Escapees mindset of giving something back, the club will support the Sedalia community with a food drive during the event. In addition, Escapade delivers as much as a million dollars into the local economy while attendees shop, dine and enjoy the charm of the local areas.
Learn more about the 52nd Escapade at http://www.escapees.com/escapade/2012/.
Amid the vuvuzelas, fire pits, silly string and marshmallow fights of Monday’s (Jan. 2) Rose Parade overnight campout sat the members of the Escapees RV Club, a group of adventurers who are very familiar with sleeping under the stars.
The Pasadena Star News reported that although most had come to the parade as part of an annual family tradition, the Escapees had come to Pasadena as another stop on their North American RV tour.
Glenda, 58, and Don Wicks, 62, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Wendy, 60, and Vince Hall, 56, who have lived on their Winnebago RV since 1994, live a lifestyle of flying by the seat of their pants and traveling where the road takes them.
“The vast majority of the things we do are spontaneous,” Don said. “If you asked me what I was going to be doing three days from now I would tell you I had no idea.”
The Wicks attended the Rose Parade for the first time this year, and said they were impressed with the experience so far.
“I can’t believe they let people do this, camp out on the street like this overnight,” Glenda said. “My whole life I never thought I would be sleeping on the streets of Pasadena.”
Don compared the experience to a 10-day festival in Calgary called the Calgary Stampede, which he described as “10 days of drunken partying.” The parade, he said, topped that experience.
“This is a little bit tamer, but a lot more interesting with regards to the street activity at night,” he said.
The Halls, who have lived on their Winnebago RV since 1994, are familiar with overnight camping, however, they said they had never had an experience quite like the Rose Parade.
“We were doing this a week ago in the Arizona dessert,” said Vince, who is a retired member of the Coast Guard, “and now we’re camping out in downtown Pasadena.”
He estimated about 12 Escapee RVs were parked at the parade this year.
But the group didn’t brave Colorado Boulevard just for the campfire, or watch the parade for the horses, bands or even J.R. Martinez. They had a personal stake in the parade as volunteers who helped build the float for the city of Glendale.
Wendy Hall, who came to the parade once before when she was seven years old, said she was most excited to see her float come down the route, to “see the results of all our hard work.”
“I always thought it would be really cool to work on one and see how it comes together,” she said. “It’s something you have on your bucket list.”
Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Woodall Publications Corp. is launching a host of new digital products and services to complement its industry-leading campground directory and website.
“It’s cool to be celebrating 75 years,” said Ann Emerson, vice president and publisher of Woodall Publications Corp. “It’s not only 75 years as a print title – Woodall’s North American Campground Directory – but look at all the digital stuff we’re doing today. The RV lifestyle lends itself to the technology that’s coming out now. It’s all about the digital world.”
“It’s very exciting. There are some incredible statistics out there about how many people own cell phones and are texting. The younger demographic is ripe for the digital channel and we are ready to deliver it,” she said.
For example, Emerson noted that in 2010 Woodalls had 277,000 people visit woodalls.com via mobile devices. In 2009, that might have been around 5,000.
Virtually all Woodalls’ readers have cell phones and 79% own two or more. Average age is 57, average income is $85,000, average nights annually spent in parks is 57. And those campers, on average, spent $1,500 on their last RV trip.
“We had a 33% increase in the number of visitors to our website in 2010,” said Emerson. “We get 15 million page views in a year, twice as much as our nearest competitor gets. That’s why we’re doing the mobile version of our website.”
Emerson and her staff rolled out plans for the 2012 Woodall’s North American Campground Directory and a host of related programs at their annual “rep” conference, a term referring to the teams that travel North America visiting campgrounds on behalf of Woodall’s, which was held Jan. 17-20 at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel.
The company officially marked its 75th anniversary at a closing banquet attended by an array of industry leaders.
The 27 rep teams, some of whom began their data collection in the field on Feb. 1, were introduced to a host of new cutting-edge digital programs at the Woodall conference to better serve Woodalls’ “affluent, active and tech-savvy” customers, 54% of whom own web-enabled mobile phones.
Packaging its digital assets – mobile and online – is a focus for Woodall’s, allowing consumers to find RV parks and campgrounds through multiple channels and touch points. Many of the enhancements offered on woodalls.com are also available on the mobile application, often optimized for this emerging channel, explained Emerson.
Woodall’s will roll out its first mobile application this spring, which will be available for the iPhone (including the iPad and iPod Touch). This free app will allow RVers to search for campground listings geographically, by name or by nearby attractions. Some of the campground products and features available on the mobile app include:
- Website Link: A direct link from the application right to your website.
- Digital Photos: Up to five digital photos with one’s Listing Details Page.
- Banner Ad: A mobile version of a listee’s state/provincial banner found on the Search Results Page of the application.
- Front of the Line Exposure: Exclusive Woodall feature that “jumps” your listing to the top of the iPhone Search Results Page in a city of your choice.
- Video – A video of your park, optimized for viewing on the application.
- Digital Spotlights: Your story in your own words.
- Visual Tour: This interactive slideshow is located on the Listing Details Page and “paints the picture” of the camping experience you offer guests.
- The above-mentioned products will also be available on woodalls.com, as well as:
- Digital Web Ads: A digital version of a print ad in the campground directory can be activated from the Search Results and Listing Details Pages.
- Instant Email: Customers can e-mail a campground directly from the Listing Details Page.
- Social Media: Accesses a campground’s Facebook and Twitter links from the Listing Details Page
- Rotating Banners: Rotating State/Provincial Banners found on both the Search Results and at the footer of a campground’s Listing Details Page.
- Blogging Opportunities: Three blog posts to draw readers to a given area.
- E-newsletter Editorial Features: Reach the inbox of Woodalls’ most engaged users by telling a story in your own words. Campgrounds may choose the months.
“We are so excited and our rep teams are excited to go out and talk to our campground customers about this technology and marketing possibilities we can all learn together,” said Emerson.
The traditional print directory will include full-color state and provincial travel maps, GPS coordinates and physical addresses on select listings and “One Tank Trip” ideas, among other helpful information for campers.
A scannable QR (Quick Response) Code placed in a campground’s ad connects RVers from their offline print ad to their online Visual Tour via their mobile phones.
The 2011 edition also marked the first year advertisers were able to incorporate an industry-first, four-color process in the listing section advertisements in the Woodall’s directories. “It’s breathtaking, the colors really pop,” Emerson said. “We know for the 2012 edition there will be even more parks that want to do that.”
The 2012 directory will contain ratings of more than 8,000 privately owned and 6,000 public parks across North America.
Woodall’s is the official directory of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), Family Campers & RVers, Camp Club USA and Camping World President’s Club. The Escapees RV Club and the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) are also partners with Woodall’s, while Camping Life is its affiliated family camping magazine.
“We are very optimistic it will be a good year for the industry and for Woodalls,” said Emerson, noting that the deadline for data collection for the 2012 directory is Aug. 31. The directory comes off the presses the week after Thanksgiving.
For information, call (800) 323-9076 or visit www.woodalls.com.
Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) is the parent company of Woodalls and RVBUSINESS.com.
The Escapees RV Club’s Second Annual Eastern Multi-Chapter Rally will be held April 27 to May 2 at the Tom Johnson RV Rally Park in Marion, N.C.
The first Eastern Multi-Chapter Rally was nicknamed SKP-ACRE (SKP-All Chapter Rally East). It was an enormous success last year, with 85 rigs and 156 people in attendance, and this year it is expected to be even better, according to an Escapees news release.
The Tom Johnson Rally Park provides an ideal rally setting, and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is perfect touring spot. The SKP-ACRE rally will have a full agenda with time to check out interesting places like Mount Mitchell or the Biltmore Estates.
And this year, Mark Nemeth, Escapees’ technical advisor/consumer advocate and Boot Camp director, will be offering several seminars, sharing tech tips, and bringing Escapees’ new SmartWeigh program as well.
The registration deadline is April 1. Visit http://sites.google.com/site/rallyinfosite/Home/rally-schedule-cover for more information.
A “Celebration of Life” service will be held Saturday (Jan. 8) at 2 p.m., in the Activity Center at Rainbow’s End, in Livingston, Texas, for Joe Peterson, co-founder of the Escapees RV Club, who died Dec. 22.
Following is his official obituary as provided by the club
Joe was born in Carlsbad, N.M, on April 23, 1927, and spent a lonely childhood as the son of a laborer at Carlsbad Caverns. Like so many others born in this generation, life was tough, but he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and never allowed the hardships to beat him out of a successful life.
After completing his service in the Navy in 1946, Joe, now 19, went immediately to Alaska, where people said you could make a million dollars. He didn’t take up gold panning, but, rather, he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). This led to a prestigious craft that not only allowed him to make a solid income for his family, it later enabled him to travel and work at his trade in 27 states. Eventually, these factors, combined with the encouragement of his enthusiastic wife, Kay Peterson, miraculously led to the inception of the Escapees RV Club in 1978. Joe received his 60-year union electrician pin in 2007. It is an honor few people attain.
Joe was embarrassed that he never received his high school diploma, but if you didn’t know better, you might have suspected he had a PhD. One of his heroes was Benjamin Franklin, who, like Joe, was self-taught and read everything he could get his hands on. There wasn’t a single subject Joe couldn’t discuss intelligently, and he often enjoyed taking the ”other side” just to encourage a debate!
Some say Joe actually struck gold in 1964 when he met Catherine (Kay) Keith, who within the year became his wife. It was, without a doubt, the most important turning point of his life. Joe and Kay made a team that was so complementary and strong that they were named one of the most influential couples in the RV industry. And today thousands of friends all across North America and beyond grieve along with his family.
Joe’s strength and determination were evident through the many challenges he faced and overcame. But what most folks will remember is that he never met a stranger. They will remember how his endless stream of jokes and quick wit made them laugh out loud. They will remember that he was never too proud to shed a tear, too meek to take a stand, or too masculine to withhold a hug.
With a sparkle in his bright blue eyes and a smile on his face, he told the surgical team one last joke and then went to sleep. He may never know what an impact he had on so many lives, or how this crazy old world just won’t be the same without him in it to make us laugh.
Joe is survived by his wife, Kay, six children (two preceded him in death), along with 20 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
If you would like to honor Joe, please send a donation to Escapees CARE Inc. (155 CARE Center Drive, Livingston, TX 77351), or to a charity of your choosing.
Escapees RV Club founder Joe Peterson died Wednesday (Dec. 22) in Houston.
Peterson and his wife, Kay, founded the club in 1978. They were 2001 inductees into the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.
The Petersons were owners/developers of 18 RV parks in 11 states and were widely recognized consumer educational seminar speakers at RV events. They authored numerous self-help books on the RV lifestyle.
For over 20 years they developed the Escapees RV club, mail and message forwarding service and coordinating medical insurance. They operated an adult day care and residency program near their office in Livingston, Texas.
RVBUSINESS.com will provide more details when they become available.
The Petersons were interviewed by RVBusiness in September in Goshen, Ind., at the club’s 50th Escapade. Excerpts from that interview follow:
When Joe and Kay Peterson started the Escapees Club July 4, 1978, they had no idea how it would evolve or how big it would become. Now with 50 chapters across North America, the club shares the RV lifestyle with both full- and part-time RVers, and takes freedom a step further by working to defend, protect and secure legislation that promotes Advocacy Coalition RVers’ civil liberties.
The Petersons started the organization simply out of a need to feel connected with other RVers.
“The need for information was great,” Kay said.
“We had been on the road eight years and met very few full-timers on the road,” Joe said. “Escapees was the first full-time RVer club. We basically got the party started.”
Rainbow’s End near Livingston, Texas, became the Escapees headquarters in April 1984. It rests six miles from Livingston and about 70 miles north of Houston. Rainbow’s End was the first Rainbow Park created. Then seven more sprang up in seven different states, followed by 11 SKP Co-Op parks that are owned and operated by members who reside in those parks. There are also two new Escapees Rainbow Parks Unlimited. Escapees is affiliated with another 1,000 parks that offer discounts to its members.
The organization employs approximately 100 full-time people across the club and parks. Joe and Kay remain on the club’s board of directors as vice president and director, respectively. Their daughter, Cathie Carr, is president of the board and her husband, Bud Carr, is vice president. Greg and Travis Carr serve as directors. Angie Carr oversees all daily operations of the club and also serves as secretary/treasurer of the board. The club remains fully owned by the Carr and Peterson families.
While it may not be an easy endeavor, defending civil liberties is among the most important roles the Escapees RV Club plays.
“Back in early 2000, we did fight and win a voting rights challenge in Texas,” Carr explained. “Our members and their right to vote were vindicated when the courts upheld the legality of our mail forwarding address.”
Along with defending RVers rights is Escapees’ belief that RVers should be free to “boondock.”
Escapees SmartWeigh is an educational RV program created by the Escapees RV Club for the exclusive purpose of enhancing safety, enjoymentand the overall success of the RV lifestyle.
Angie Carr, executive director of the Escapees RV Club, stated in a news release, “A long-standing mission of the club is to educate RVers, both new and experienced, on the aspects of RVing safely. There’s a big difference between what you can do and what you should do for the safety of yourself and your family. The new SmartWeigh program will be operated within the highly praised RVers’ Boot Camp program since both focus on preparing RVers for this wonderful lifestyle. Really, the Smart Weigh tag says it all: ‘Escape with Peace of Mind.’”
SmartWeigh provides critical RV weight safety and load management information in a highly accurate and usable format. In order to produce the most accurate information, Escapees SmartWeigh uses quality scales, which are annually tested. Highly trained weighing teams will also use only the most suitable weighing sites, like the one specifically designed and installed at Escapees headquarters for this purpose.
Neil LeKander, SmartWeigh program administrator, explained, “This is a comprehensive program that addresses all the major weight and load management issues. Once your RV is weighed, you will be provided with the resources that allow you to understand your weight control options in order to help you make the necessary changes to correct any weight or loading issues. It also provides the essential data for RV trailer hitch analysis and adjustment, as well as the information needed to correctly set your tire pressures for longer tire life and a better ride.”
The Escapees SmartWeigh program will be introduced in phases as rapidly as possible. The first scheduled weighing event took place at Rainbow’s End during the Escapees Octoberfest and the RVers’ Boot Camp program in Livingston, Texas. The next weighing event will take place at Escapees North Ranch RV Park in Congress, Ariz., Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, during Escapees RVers’ Boot Camp.
In the future, SmartWeigh will be offered at many other club and RV events! Weighing will also be available at Rainbow’s End on a weekly basis when event schedules permit. Please check www.escapees.com/smartweigh for a list of times and places.