Almost 660 rigs and 1,300 people attended the 58th Annual Escapade hosted by the Escapade RV Club, which ran May 27 to June 1 at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Mo. (To view a slideshow scroll to the right side of the RVBUSINESS.com home page.)
“We actually had – and this is always interesting and exciting for us – two people in tents. So, two people who aren’t even in the lifestyle, they found us and joined our little gathering. It’s always exciting for us when people who are just looking at this lifestyle for the very first time are finding the Escapees and finding value in the services that we offer,” Shawn Loring, Escapees CEO, told RVBUSINESS.com.
“And what we were really excited about is, of those attendees, we had 40 kids,” he added. “So, we have growing participation in what we call ‘Kidscapade,’ which is a mini experience for the kids. There are quite a few families, as we all know, who are raising kids on the road and what not, so we’re excited to see them here.”
The Escapade coincided with the 40th anniversary of the RV owners club founded in 1978 by Joe and Kay Peterson which is now run by their grandson, Travis Carr, and his wife, Melanie. The club’s current membership counts some 32,000 families – or about 64,000 members – which represents the highest total in its 40-year history. And of that total, Loring added, about 14 1/2% are involved in a chapter known as the “Xscapers,” which caters to members that are full-timers or very heavy, seasonal users who are working or raising families on the road.
“If you come to an Xscapers Convergence, we don’t care if you’re 17 years old or 97 years old. You’ll find out whether it fits for you,” he explained. “But for this group, a lot of the seminars and activities don’t really start until the afternoon to give those people who are working, remotely or what not, a chance to complete their work obligations before the fun begins.”
Loring went on to say that Escapees has added a variety of services and benefits in recent years, so the focus is now on evaluating and refining those offerings and “really making sure that the community is supported because at the end of the day, it really is about people enjoying the lifestyle.”
“Not unlike other clubs, we have a whole host of services,” he continued. “In fact, we have built over 40 years into, essentially, a conglomerate of services to support the RVing lifestyle. But the real magic, the real draw, is the people. It’s the community. It’s those moments where you get to celebrate this lifestyle by sharing it with other people. You know, we tend to be nomadic and, therefore, we’re dispersed. We’re separated from each other. So, moments like Escapades and other events that we host throughout the year, give people that opportunity to hug each other and shake hands.”