Canyonlands Field Institute's field camp in Professor Valley has been used as a quiet retreat for school groups. The camp will be moved to private property nearby. [Courtesy photo / Canyonlands Field Institute]

After 26 years operating a field camp in Professor Valley on land leased from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Moab-based outdoor education non-profit Canyonlands Field Institute (CFI) is relocating the camp to neighboring private land this winter.

CFI is inviting the Moab community to celebrate the their many years at the cottonwood grove for a dinner at the field camp Saturday, Oct. 11. The field camp is near Professor Creek, 20 miles up State Route 128 in the Richardson Amphitheater.

CFI uses the camp to provide school groups from across the nation with space to enjoy a quiet retreat, learn with CFI naturalists about desert plants, animals, geology and public lands management, and have time for their own school curriculum as well.

Kids sleep on cots in Lakota-style tipis, meals are prepared in a semi-permanent kitchen housed within a yurt. Daily classes are held outdoors along the creek, on hikes in the foothills below nearby Fisher Mesa, under a shade ramada in camp or inside another yurt set up as a classroom. The camp can accommodate groups up to 40 individuals including kids, school group chaperones and CFI staff.

Two years ago, with the release of the BLM’s Resource Management Plan, it became clear that CFI needed to find a new location by spring of 2014. Given the unique beauty and location of the Professor Creek site, however, the group found it difficult to imagine anything else truly fitting the bill.

But with the help of Jennifer Speers, CFI was able to secure private land virtually next door on a 40-acre former ranch downstream from their current BLM location.

Speers purchased the land from rancher Joe Taylor and gave CFI a 25-year lease with an option to buy.

Last month, at a special dinner hosted by Jane and Ken Sleight at Pack Creek Ranch, CFI launched the next phase of the change-over which involves site planning and fundraising. The group plans to remove the field camp facilities from the BLM site and install them at the new site over the coming winter so that they will be ready to begin hosting groups at the Taylor Ranch site next spring pending final approval of site plans by Grand County.

The send-off celebration will be held Saturday, Oct. 11 at the Professor Valley Field Camp. A shuttle service from CFI headquarters in Moab will be provided free of charge.

The evening will include a social hour and hors d’oeuvres beginning at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring musical instruments and stories for the after-dinner campfire where s’mores will be prepared. Overnight camping is optional, with guests encouraged to bring tents and sleeping bags or to bunk in one of the tipis.