Foray 101
a History & Description of NMMS Forays . 1995-2o12
by David Wallis
Introduction
    I joined NMMS in 1995, and my first Foray was that year at the Chaparral Girl Scout Camp in the Jemez. The food was mediocre, we slept in tents, and it was the driest, most fungally unproductive Foray I have ever attended. Jack States was the Mycologist. He talked about relationships, about Coopers Hawks and squirrels and truffles and trees. I learned about the magic of mycorrhizal relationships, and I was hooked.
    This document describes NMMS Forays–not a description of each, but an overview of their format and planning and some changes which have occurred between now and then.

Comparing NMMS and NAMA Forays
    The NMMS Annual Foray is similar in structure to NAMA's Foray. (NAMA is the North American Mycological Association, with with which NMMS has been affiliated since NMMS' creation in 1984.) Each Foray begins registration on Thursday PM and concludes around noon on Sunday. Each includes field trips, planned meals, evening sessions, and a focus on collection, identification, and display. However NAMA Forays can have 200-500 participants while NMMS Forays average about 60. Also, NAMA Forays have considerably more field trips with pre-established leaders and busses taking folks to and from the collection sites. Furthermore, NAMA Forays offer more options for participants. In addition to the numerous field trips, there are lectures and workshops offered for those who choose to remain at the Foray headquarters. Another difference occurs in the evenings, when there may by 2 or 3 lectures and presentations each night, including a kick-off program on Thursday evening.
    As I stated, NMMS Forays are less complex. Folks straggle in Thursday afternoon, and there might be a brief kick-off session that evening. Usually, but not always, field trip leaders have been identified before the event, and usually, but not always, the field trip destinations have been decided.
    Participants should sign up for a field trip Thursday evening and should meet with their field trip leader at the designated time and place the following morning and be on their way as scheduled. Last year at the Pagosa Springs Foray, Mark Kalin's group was the first I have ever witnessed actually succeeding.

Costs for Foray Participants
    Foray Participants' costs consist of lodging and the Foray fee. Usually the two are separate. I believe at the 1995 and 1999 Forays, both of which were held at camps, the cost of lodging (if one can call it that) was included in the Foray fee. However, when the Foray is held at a Hotel, the Foray committee, after coming to an agreement with hotel management on cost, will instruct participants to make arrangements and pay for their own rooms.
    The Foray Fee usually covers the cost of food, supplies, and compensation for the Foray Mycologist(s). Food and supplies are based per participant and thus easy to calculate.
    Mycologist compensation is a distributed cost and is calculated by dividing total cost by the expected number of participants. Other items for which the costs are distributed might include

  • Food, beverage, and eating supplies for the evening Foray Socials
  • Extra bottles of water
  • Trays and field slips for Collection and Display (we bought enough of these a few years back to keep us going through at least one more Foray.)
  • Printing and Mailing Foray announcments (this can also be covered by membership dues.)
  • Last year, we had the additional expenses of a USFS Permit and Liability Insurance. The Insurance is an Annual Policy, and it can thus be argued that it is not specifically a Foray expence. Nonetheless, we would not have purchased Insurance had the USFS not required it as a condition for the Permit.

    Supplies
        Participants typically receive Foray-related supplies when they check in at the Foray. In recent years we have referred to this as the Goodie Bag. These supplies might include

  • Wax Bags - 1 box of 60 per attendee
  • Brush - usually an inexpensive disposable paint brush for field cleaning specimens
  • Field slips - a packet of about 50 for starters (more are made available)
  • Pen or Pencil - for filling out field slips and taking notes
  • 1 or 2 water bottles
  • 1 or 2 packaged snacks such as granola bars
  • hand sanitizer packets or little bottles

    Who May Attend
        I don't know how attendance eligibility was defined before 1995, but from that year until 2001, the Annual Foray was "open to NMMS and the NAMA members, as well as members of other recognized mycological organizations." From 2002 through 2004 the wording was changed slightly, the Foray being open to members of NMMS, NAMA, and NAMA-affiliated organizations. In 2005 Sharon Chong, who that year was Treasurer, Vice President, and Foray Chair, insisted that Foray attendees must be NMMS members. I whimpered a little, but nobody argued. Those from other organizations who wanted to attend had to join the club. That mandate continued through the 2011 Foray. For the 2012 Pagosa Springs Foray, we returned to the 2002-2004 wording.

    Changes

  • 2 Mycologists
    In 1995, Jack States was the Foray Mycologist. I believe that having one person filling that role had been the norm, and it continued (sort of) until 2004. An exception was the 1998 Foray in Los Alamos, during which a visit to the Valle Grande provided a huge attraction. Although Harry Thiers was our official Mycologist that year, the event drew other Mycologists who offered their assistance and received a modest honorarium.
        For or 1997 Jemez Springs Foray we had signed on Dick Homola as that year's Mycologist. Unfortunately, health issues prevented his attendance, and we enlisted Steve Trudell soon before the Foray. That close call prompted me to advocate having (at least) 2 Mycologists for each Foray. It costs more, but I maintain that it provides a margin of safety. Beginning in 2004 and for most years since, most NMMS Forays have featured 2 Mycologists.

  • Field Trips on Friday, Workshops on Saturday
    Forays used to feature planned field trips on both Friday and Saturday. Mushroom identification used to then occur after-hours, sometimes late into the night. What began to happen, with more frequency each year, was that most Foray participants would go into the field both days, bring back numerous specimens, dump them in the collection area, and expect someone else to take over from there. It resulted in lots of collections, but little identification.
        My solution to that was to plan field trips only for Friday, and schedule identification training and workshops on Saturday. There, of course, are some Foray participants who care little about identifying anything beyond edibles, and those folks were welcome to return to the field on Saturday. Another advantage of of Friday-only field trips is that there tends to be considerably less traffic on the back roads on Friday than there is once the weekend begins.
        We implemented this change for our 2005 Ruidoso Foray and again last year at Pagosa Springs. It was well received in Ruidoso, and I heard only one objection in Pagosa Springs.

  • Evening Programs
    At the 2010 Foray at Sipapu, we changed the format of evening events, replacing the traditional evening lecture(s) with an all-hands discussion of the day's events. My rationale for this change was that after a day in the field and a generous evening meal, many attendees will welcome a slide show and lecture as an opportunity to take a nice nap. I've watched it happen. So we replaced that scenario with one where we keep the lights on and everybody involved. A few people have stated that they miss the lectures, but more seem to appreciate the change.

  • Cook & Taste
    The Mycophagy session, or Cook & Taste, has traditionally been a welcome feature of NMMS Forays, another aspect which I would guess has been borrowed from the NAMA Foray model. During many years it has been a major production. This event has always occurred sometime during Saturday afternoon. Scheduling can be tricky, particularly if the Foray Committee has planned field trips for that day. It need to occur late enough that folks have time to return from the field but not so late that it encroaches on the evening meal.
        At the 2o11 Foray in Red River, the Foray Committee scheduled Saturday Field Trips followed by Chef Carlo Gislimberti's Cooking Demonstration followed by the Cook & Taste followed by the evening meal. My analogy for this type of planning is filling a ten pond turkey with twenty pounds of stuffing. Nonetheless, that day, as did the entire Foray, went remarkably well and everyone survived.
        We did, however, consider the 2o11 Foray's scheduling when we planned the Pagosa event, and we did away with the Cook & Taste, focusing instead on Chef Carlo's Cooking Demonstration.

  • Walk-Around
    Another Foray tradition borrowed from NAMA is the end of Foray Walk-Around with the Foray Mycologist(s). Until last year, this has always occurred Sunday morning and is the last educational portion of the Foray. The Mycologist(s) and Foray participants will gather at the specimen display area and discuss the various families and genera, touching on various representative or notable collections. This session usually last about an hour.
        One of the participants at last year's Pagosa Foray made a very perceptive comment which prompted us to make a change. She commented that if all the specimens were coming in Friday that many would be less than fresh come Sunday morning. (Keep in mind that we did not schedule Saturday field trips for that Foray.) Recognizing the wisdom of her observation, we schedule the Walk-Around for Saturday afternoon instead.
        Besides ensuring fresher specimens, scheduling the Walk-Around for Saturday also frees up time on Sunday morning, which means a more orderly clean-up and more time for Foray Participants to head back home, perhaps hitting a few collecting spots along the way.
    MycoWest.net/forays/foray101.htm
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