From the pre-event RVers Boot Camp through the Farewell Fiesta, the 59th Escapade was jam-packed with opportunities for community-building, growth and learning! This year, we returned to warm and sunny Tucson, Arizona. Though the week started off with a chill, the weather proved to be perfect for traveling around the fairgrounds, attending various Escapade events.
Escapade Returned to Tuscon in 2019
It is a bit of a homecoming each time Escapade returns to Tucson. The Pima County Fairgrounds has hosted us for several of the more recent Escapades, welcoming us back with new improvements each time, including more sites, new buildings, and upgraded facilities.
This year, we filled more than 800 sites and enjoyed the company of 750 walk-ins, making this one of our biggest events in recent history.
RVers Boot Camp Kicks off Escapees
RVers Boot Camp, an education staple of Escapade, kicked off Thursday afternoon with engaging seminars from Sue Valentine, Jim Koca, David Monson, and others. We eagerly welcomed back several Boot Camp graduates who offered to host a graduates’ party for this year’s students.
A huge thank you to Rob and Laura Kernodle and their team for not only hosting the Boot Camp graduates’ social but also hosting the First-Timers Meet & Greet for Escapade attendees a few days later!
Xscapers Continues to Grow
At Sunday’s Opening Ceremony, we learned that Xscapers, a lifestyle group within Escapees RV Club that caters to the needs of working-age RVers, has now grown to more than 10,000 individual members. That’s a lot of growth for a group that started at Escapade just four years ago.
We celebrated a great honor bestowed on Travis and Melanie Carr, the Club’s president and vice-president. They were selected to receive RVIA’s 40 Under 40 award for their work with Escapees RV Club, Xscapers, and for the benefit of the RV community as a whole.
First Timers at Escapade
The First Timer’s Meet & Greet following the opening ceremony was a great success! It provided a convenient way for first time attendees to come together and get to know each other, as well as learn from those who have previously attended Escapade.
Attendee Toni Hashem shared “as first-time attendees, we have to admit we didn’t know what to expect at this rally. We now can say it surpassed all expectations!”
The American Rogues Rock Escapade
Sunday evening, Thurber Hall was rocking with the sounds of The American Rogues, an immensely talented Celtic band who helped us celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Escapade style. After the show, Xscapers welcomed attendees to the Party Paddock where band members and SKPs both continued the celebration.
Continuing Commitment to Education at Escapade
Monday started early with seminars, promising a day full of education on topics including domicile, roadside assistance services, lithium batteries, braking systems, and more. For many attendees, this is the most-anticipated part of Escapade.
Jackie Kazel, new to Escapade and to full-time RVing, excitedly shared “This was our first Escapade. We counted on coming since before we purchased our MH. It took us a few years to make it, but the anticipation of the boot camp, the Escapade, and the weigh-in gave us the confidence to jump into full-timing. The experience has gone beyond our expectations- we’ve learned sooooo much and met such wonderful people. Great organization and effort resulted in incredible seminars and events.”
Fun for the Whole Family
The younger RVers enjoyed Kidscapade activities while parents and grandparents attended seminars, checked out the marketplace, visited with Chapter and BOF representatives on the ROW, or enjoyed some downtime back at their campsite.
Ask the Manufacturer
One of the day’s best-attended events was Winnebago’s “Ask the Manufacturer” session. Here, Nick Davis, Product Planner for Winnebago, was joined by several members of their development teams in order to answer consumer questions about both Winnebago products and RV manufacturing in general. The conversation filled the one-hour timeslot and spilled over into one-on-one interactions as Winnebago staff were invited to tour attendees’ rigs and talk through some of the pros and cons of designs and how RVers use the rig.
The Red Head Express Takes to the Stage
That night, Redhead Express took the stage to entertain attendees with a variety of country, folk, and pop music, both covers and original songs. With their unique ensemble of instruments and their melodic voices, they had the audience singing along, dancing along, and offering standing ovations.
New Seminars Target to Your Interests
With Escapade attendees now in the swing of things, Tuesday presented more opportunities for learning and socializing, with a variety of gatherings happening throughout the fairgrounds from sunrise to sunset. This year, we tried something new with the seminar lineup- targeted tracks based on highly sought-after topics. Tuesday offered attendees a series of seminars and presentations focused on boondocking, including safety, off-grid power options, and a panel discussion with full-time RVers who spend most of their time camping off-grid in a variety of places.
Wednesday’s track focused on full-time RVing. From what to do with your paper files to how to maintain a reliable internet connection, many of Wednesday’s seminars tackled questions full-timers face during their travels. As with Tuesday’s boondocking seminars, the full-timers’ lineup wrapped with a panel discussion facilitated by Mark Nemeth where attendees could pick the brains of longtime full-time RVers, including those who travel solo, those who are raising their family on the road, and even some who have been full-timing for more than a decade.
Escapade's Got Talent
As the day came to a close, attendees gathered once again in Thurber Hall to cheer on fellow SKPs during Escapade’s Got Talent, the now-annual variety show which provides Club members the opportunity to share their many talents. The show opened with an endearing performance from the Kidscapade group and featured the vocal skills of several SKPs including Lou Frank, Tys Dammeyer, DeeAnn Buell, as well as the story-telling knack of Daina Chamness and Augie Fries. We were treated to performances from both the line dancers, led by Sue Glick who hosted dance classes each morning, and the Zumba dancers, led by CJ Walker who led Zumba Gold sessions each morning of Escapade. Host Jim Koca kept the audience entertained between acts with his ever-growing lineup of jokes.
Escapees Give Back
Our closing day, Thursday, is always bittersweet. Though the morning schedule kept SKPs busy with seminars, the afternoon and evening were more laid back, offering attendees the opportunity to connect for one last time before heading out the next morning to new destinations. During Closing Ceremony, we learned lots of fun statistics related to Escapade.
Tony Sestrich was among those first-timers. “My husband and I enjoyed our first Escapade and first ever event with Escapees.”
Last year, to celebrate our 40th anniversary, our Escapade Directors Duane and Jean Mathes pulled together a big street festival, complete with live music, food and beverage vendors, and activities for kids. It was such a hit that they had to do it again this year! Instead of the main street, we all came together in the cantina’s courtyard for the Farewell Fiesta. Though it was a bit chilly Thursday night, we had a great turnout. We kept warm with tasty drinks and lots of dancing, filling the dancefloor song after song. Kids enjoyed the inflatable playground and the open spaces, their laughter and giggles heard around the courtyard. RVers of all ages and lifestyles came together for one last meal and a hug.
New Programs for Escapees Announced at Escapade
Though Escapade is often focused on providing educational and social opportunities for our Club members, this year provided the perfect opportunity to announce several new benefits and programs for Escapees.
Peterson Spirit Award
We also announced the Peterson Spirit Award, a program that encourages members to recognize each other for demonstrating and reinforcing the values of Escapees RV Club, values that help us strengthen and grow our RVing community.
Don't Miss the Next Escapade!
If you missed us in Tucson this year, don’t stress. Escapade will be here again before you know it. In June 2020, we’re heading to beautiful Rock Springs, Wyoming! More details on the 60th Escapade are coming soon, so keep an eye on the event calendar and Club News to snag your spot as soon as registration opens. We hope to see you there!