a History & Description of NMMS Forays . 1995-2o12
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.
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
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
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
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
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
and eating supplies for the evening Foray Socials
Extra bottles of water
Trays and field slips for Collection and Display (we bought
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.