Surfers of UC San Diego: Brandon Kampschuur ‘06

Man surfs on a wave.
Brandon Kampschuur ‘06 riding a wave.

Brandon Kampschuur ‘06

  • College: Revelle
  • Major: Computer Science
  • Hometown: Huntington Beach, CA
  • Currently lives: San Francisco, CA
  • Career: Portfolio Manager – Algert Global

How did you learn to surf?

At my high school in Huntington Beach, they started a surf team when I was a sophomore, before it stopped getting offered. I helped get it off the ground and learned how to surf. I went to the beach every day and boogie boarded too, thanks to my dad taking me.

Why did you choose UCSD? Did surfing affect your choice?

My choice was more happenstance. By my senior year in high school, I didn’t really have any friends that surfed because the surf class went away. The honest truth is that surfing wasn’t top of mind for me.

I liked UCSD’s academics and engineering, and I was really excited about Revelle College because I liked reading philosophy in high school. I was probably one of the only people that was happy to be in Revelle and take those humanities courses.

When I got UCSD, I fell in with people who surfed in Revelle and then eventually ran the club. Growing up, I wasn’t steeped in surf culture at all, but at UCSD, I really got immersed into it. We would travel and go to Baja all the time. I started talking with other surfers and realized what surfing culture is, which I think melds with environmentalism and appreciation for travel.

What does Black’s Beach mean to you?

Black’s is amazing. My first year was a pretty good year for Black’s, but I was unable to surf during a lot of the better days because of my skill level at the time. Basically, it came down to what boards I had. I didn’t have big boards; I just had little boards.

Black’s was where we went. We could just walk there from Revelle. Everyone knew that it was a world class beach break. I didn’t appreciate how lucky we were to have Black’s right there, but I got my first barrels there for sure.

Tell us more about your time at the surf club.

I tried out for the surf team the freshman year, but I didn’t make it and that was cool with me. It was just fun to go down there and meet everyone and surf a heat.

Fast forward about a year and a half, and I joined the surf club. They skateboarded around campus and were on library walk with a booth. Their schtick was, you buy a shoe, you pay 20 bucks, you get the emails and, and you get a shirt on the spot. So I joined, went to a party or two and a meeting.

It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was cool. But then the next year there was like no surf club. They weren’t out on Library Walk, and it just seemed disorganized. I didn’t really think much of it. Until I’d made friends with Toby and he basically knew the guys who were supposed to be running the surf club. We decided to take it over.

At the time, there were two keys to Black’s. So there was a huge incentive to get it going again. One key went to the surf team captains and the other to the surf club. We were both pretty motivated by the idea of having this coveted key. I even compared it to the ring in Lord of the Rings.

I ran the club off the bat my sophomore year and was the president my senior year. We came up with a bunch of events, like parties. It was also fun to sell the club. We sold memberships to build the bankroll that we used to fund events. We weren’t getting any money from the school, so we went to businesses around San Diego. Rusty Surfboards sponsored us, and Ballast Point did as well, when they were a microbrew and craft brew shop.

Outside of the frat scene, there was not much socially happening at UCSD. So we threw open parties that anyone could come to. If you were in the club you got in free, otherwise there was a door charge. We also did movie showings at Price Center.

2006 Learn to Surf Day

The average student can interact with the surf club pretty easily. We did ‘learn to surf’ days once a quarter at Scripps. All the members could come, get a bunch of foam boards and teach lessons. We did camping trips on the beach.

How did the surf club complement your UC San Diego education?

It was a big part of my personal growth, education, and leadership. Still to this day, I have never sold anything like I did when I was selling those memberships. I distinctly remember just standing there on Library Walk with our sign and learning by trial and error what worked when you’re trying to get people to sign up. Handing them a shirt made them way more likely to pull out 20 bucks and join the club. I had to go out and hustle to make something happen that wasn’t in a syllabus.

One thing I also like to tell people about the surf club that I thought was cool: I-House students were, by far, our most active and fun members. A lot of them were only there for a quarter or a year, but they loved it. At events that weren’t just parties, they always came out in force and took the most advantage of what we were doing.

Where did your education take you?

I got really interested in computer science, and I studied bioinformatics for a while. I knew I had to apply computer science somewhere, but the idea of being a tech worker didn’t appeal to me. Then I got really into finance and actually met Amber Puha ’93. I took her class, and then we became close friends. She ended up writing me letters of recommendation for grad school. She also helped legitimize the fact that like a surfer can be into finance. By the time I graduated, I discovered my love for surfing and traveling, but I’d never surfed outside of the country besides my senior year, when I organized a trip to Costa Rica with the surf club.

I had this idea that I really wanted to travel and surf after graduating. I arranged to get a job for just six months as a contractor in Colorado. While I was there, I applied to grad schools, and after that job ended, I’d saved all my money and traveled for eight months until I started grad school.

I went to Stanford for Management, Science and Engineering. My purpose of going to that program was to then get a job in hedge funds, which is how things worked out. I ended up working at a company in San Francisco. That’s how I got my career started in finance and asset management.

How did surfing help you in your career journey?

I can’t really point to anything in particular other than to say if you want something to happen, you just have to go out and do it. If you want to start a new project, you just have to go and do it. Like when we started running the surf club, we were building from nothing. We had to go and get a bank account, pitch to all the sponsors again and tell them we are not going to blow it off.

Do you have a favorite memory from the surf club?

The ‘learn to surf’ days were always the most rewarding. I got to see the look on someone’s face when they stood up for the first time and felt what it’s like to ride a wave. The party memories are fun but maybe not as PG as seeing people understand how a surfboard is made for the first time. I remember when I first learned you could fix my own surfboard and someone taught me how to do it. It was rewarding to pass that on. It was cool to expose people to aspects of surfing culture and surfing that they had never experienced before.

Do you still surf?

Oh yeah. All the time. And my job was cool with me surfing after I’d established myself as a good worker and professional. If the waves get really good out here in San Francisco, I freak out. At work, if there weren’t meetings or anything pressing, I would say, “I’m outta here, man. I’ll make it up tonight, but I have to go now.”

What would you say to someone who’s passing by on Library Walk and is on the fence about joining?

You should join it. You get to open up your world a little bit. The friends I have and the experiences from the surf club and outside of the classroom activities are what I look so fondly back on about my time at UCSD. It’s not even when I would get really good grades or score the highest on a test. I think, “Wow, that was a rad party or the look on her face when she caught her first wave.”

Read more Q&A’s with UC San Diego surfers here.

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And read and submit your surf memories on this group Google Doc!