About The Camp
A place to grow and thrive
Where underserved youth Realize Their Full Potential
Camp Dallas is on a mission to bring underserved youth outside and immerse them in nature. Headquartered in Spring Bay, Illinois, Camp Dallas envisions a place where underserved youth are invited to explore, discover and realize their full potential.
This is a camp for kids to fish, hunt, build, cook, and earn their way into the life-changing (and life-saving) thrills of experiencing the value of a hard day’s work.
By working in teams and developing lifelong skills to prepare them for adulthood, campers are rewarded over a campfire with friends, connecting in a safe space under a night sky full of a million stars.
Campers are also rewarded with the short- and long-term health benefits (both mental and physical) of running free and getting dirty in the fresh air. Every day empowers them with skills and a strong work ethic, preparing them for a better future as upstanding citizens with elevated respect for one another and the world around them.
The Founding Story
Every year on October 5, Patty Atherton sits down to write a letter to her son, Dallas. “If you knew how much I loved you,” she begins, “would you have said goodbye?”
“I’ve never told anyone this…I don’t think he knew how much people loved him. That’s what makes me sad, that there are plenty of people in the world who don’t think they’re loved.”
Dallas Atherton was 19 when he took his own life on October 5, 2007. The ensuing 13 years have made it easier for his parents, Dwayne and Patty Atherton, to cope, though the sense of loss has never ebbed. A day doesn’t go by without reflecting on his memory, but their grief has been nudged aside by a resolve to do something meaningful to preserve Dallas’ legacy and to spare other families what they experienced, tragically, with a struggling child.