Escapees Boot Camp, Congress, Arizona

Still Life with Agave

She said… 

Two years ago when we decided to get rid of our stuff and become full time RVers, I thought two years was all the time in the world. When I look back now it is astounding to me how much we have gotten done, how much our lives have changed, and how fast that two years has flown by.

In January of 2016 we went to an RV show in San Antonio, Texas. We hadn’t bought our RV yet but we had pretty much narrowed it down to a used, high-end diesel, maximum 36 feet long. We were also interested in the seminars, and there is where we were first exposed to Escapees. Escapees is not just another club for retired old farts in trailers but a group of active, engaged, some still-working people who are out there loving this lifestyle. We attended two Escapee presentations at that show and decided then and there to attend the Escapee’s Boot Camp the following February whether we had made our new home purchase yet or not.

Well, here we are a year later, six months into RV ownership (new, gas, but we had the length right), and I gotta say that this weekend is probably the greatest investment in our future as full-time RVers that we could have made. Here is a group of full-timers, some living this lifestyle for nearly 20 years, who are willing to share their time, their stories, their tips and secrets so that we can be more knowledgeable and more safe and have more fun out there on the road.

Friday after registrations was the first session on Basic RV Systems (RV for Dummies). That information was expanded in more depth on the second and third days. We also had sessions on RV Weight and Load Management, Driving Your RV Safely, Personal Safety for RVers, Motorhomes and Towing (we will be towing our car), Fire and Life Safety, and RV Tire Safety. There were also sessions for folks who have not yet purchased an RV and one specifically for those who have travel trailers and 5th wheels. In addition, there was a roundtable discussion with all of these experienced people so we could ask them any questions we wanted.

Also available from Escapees at the Boot Camp was an opportunity to get our RV weighed and measured by a team from Smart Weigh. This is important because being overweight (and/or under inflated) causes extra wear and tear on your rig and on your tires. Also, if you have claims against your warranty or your insurance for any reason, being overweight can void those claims. They weigh each wheel, or quadrant, separately so you have clear information about adjustments you need to make. We knew that we were probably overweight (we are) but we found out that we were also out of balance. Because we have a residential refrigerator (heavy) and our kitchen is on the passenger side of the coach, our curb side is much heavier; so, even though the front axle is not over weight, we need to shift more of our load to the driver’s side. These adjustments will make our tires and our rig wear better and should also make it easier to drive.

One of the things we thought we would have to forgo this weekend because of time constraints was the driving school. With the help of the instructors we were be able to squeeze in the two 6-hour sessions on Sunday after the last seminar and Monday before we left. We  both did the training, which included basic parking lot work but also a trip to town for navigation in close quarters, traffic circles, and an excursion up the mountain behind us (and back down) as well as some work in what-to-do-in-white-knuckle-situations, like tire failure. I know that this will increase my confidence behind the wheel as well as giving both of us more tools and experience to be safe out here. More on this later.

Escapees North Ranch Campground is huge, with lots of members having bought lots and either living in their rigs or building houses. Nobody here will ever tell you that you can’t have your RV in your front yard! Everybody is very friendly and very helpful. The campground section is clean and the spaces are big but very close together. The  sites are very barren compared to the permanent resident section which is beautifully landscaped.



Little old cactus wearing funny hats! Actually the styro cups are to prevent the growing tips from freezing. Not the kind of help a cactus would get in the wild!


These giant agave live for about thirty-five years, send up one giant flower spike, and then they die, as though they have been saving up their whole lives for this last explosion of beauty.

I love symmetry in nature. Now if I could just get my RV balanced!

A wonderful time was had by all, and we made many new friends. I have come away with a new confidence, new skills, and a new awareness of how to keep myself and those around me safe out there on the road.


6 thoughts on “Escapees Boot Camp, Congress, Arizona

  1. We did individual wheel weighing with RVSEF, and it really is a huge help! We are going to need to be weighed again soon…it’s been a couple of years. We are thinking of joining Escapees, so it’s good to know about Smart Weigh.

    1. The Smart-Weigh is $45 and they give you the opportunity to go back within 6 months for a re-weigh for $25 (supposedly after you’ve downsized/reloaded the RV). They have three locations: Congress, AZ, Livingston, TX, and someplace in FL.

  2. Thanks for the great review! I’m scheduled to attend bootcamp in Tucson in March. In reading your narrative it appears most of the bootcamp is focused on motor coaches. Do you think it will be as beneficial for 5th wheel owners?


    1. We focused on the motorcoach because that is what we have; it is definitely worth it for 5th wheelers as well. Most seminars are for all RVers. One of the seminars is for trailers/5vers and another is for motorcoaches.

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