Who the Folk?! Chad Kampe

Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of the community as our “Person of the Week.” Last week we got to know Miriam Schwartz. This week meet Chad Kampe! Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected]

TC Jewfolk: Are you from the Twin Cities? 

Chad: I am not from the Twin Cities! I came here to the Twin Cities in 2000 to attend Macalester College in Saint Paul. I met my husband during my senior year and he has kept me here! The first 14 years of my life was spent in Western Massachusetts. It was very small-town, but full of culture, tourists and a tight-knit Jewish community. During my sophomore year in high school we moved to Bethesda, MD right outside of DC. 

TCJ: You’re the Executive Director of the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute. (Did we get that right?) Please explain.

Chad: ​Yes, we have the longest elevator pitch in the world! The MOI is a nonprofit that helps under-resourced kids with their homework and creative writing. We are inspired by Dave Eggers’ 826 Model (8 locations around the country.) We are working on a retail concept (t-shirts, cards, books, etc.) that is ocean-themed. The whole idea is that students are transported to a new world the moment they step into our space. The MOI is a “storefront” and the real action is happening in the tutoring center. During the school year we are open Monday– Friday for free after-school tutoring. We are always looking for volunteers! Our volunteers make the program successful.

TCJ: So you’re not really selling ocean supplies…

Chad: Nope, not ocean supplies! But we plan to sell quirky fun items that you can’t get anywhere else. Each purchase goes to the work that we are doing with kids. Look for a crowd funding campaign in September, we are going to attempt to raise enough money to build-out the space.

TCJ: You also DJ?

Chad: Back in 2011, I decided to throw a party called FLIP PHONE at Honey in NE Minneapolis. The monthly “theme” party is a hit. It’s on a school night (Thursday) but it draws 200-350 people every time. Our next party is FLIP PHONE PRIDE: I WOKE UP LIKE DIS (Beyonce Tribute) 6/26 and THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND (Golden Girls Dance Party with a Golden Girls costume party) on 7/24. It’s a wonderful diverse group of people who come and dance it all out night. The crowd is all up for having fun, so everyone is welcome. 

TCJ: Are you involved in any other TC organizations?

Chad: I am involved with the steering board of J-Pride and active donor of Family Tree Clinic in Saint Paul.

TCJ: We’re taking an informal survey. Which of the many Jewish summer camps gets you all ferklempt?

Chad: As a child I attended Camp Eisner in the Berkshires and was a proud member of USY ON WHEELS BUS C in 1997. That was the first time I met anyone from Minnesota. I also attend Camp Waziyatah (not Jewish, but everyone was Jewish) in Maine where Disney Channel’s Bug Juice reality show was filmed.

TCJ: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?

Chad: I love to have people over to our house and have a nice dinner on our new deck. My husband and I love entertaining and shabbat is a wonderful time to invite friends (Jews and goys) over to our place.

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?

Chad: Purim! I love dressing up and having a good time. My drag character, Joy Veh was born durning Purim a couple years ago. The holiday seems to be all about acceptance and who doesn’t love Hamentashen? It’s my favorite holiday to explain to non-Jews.

Joy Veh

Joy Veh

TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Chad: Mocked Chopped Liver- This is a kind of a stretch. I am a Pescatarian, but I love my grandma’s vegetarian chopped liver recipe. I’ve never had real liver, but I guess this what it tastes like? This is a staple of all of our family’s passovers.

TCJ: Who is the coolest Jew?

Chad: Amanda Bynes, Just Kidding. There are actually so many… Paula Abdul, Bette Middler, Lisa Kudrow, Christopher Guest, Babs, Sherri Lewis.. I could keep going and going. I like anyone with a bit of sass and who enjoys life!

TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the Cities?

Chad: I eat out way too much. My husband and I love going to restaurants, and I can give you an opinion on any restaurant in the Twin Cities. We usually visit a new restaurant within weeks that it has been opened. The Twin Cities has a great food scene and I happy to benefit from all of the talented chefs!

TCJ: Give us one more reason you’re folking awesome!

Chad: Hmmmm.. I began my career teaching fifth grade at Minneapolis Jewish Day School for three years!

Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!