Katie

Katie prides herself on her positivity. When others see a “problem,” Katie sees an “opportunity.” When others — not anyone who works at Camp Smile, of course! — dread Mondays, Katie revels in them.

“Mondays are the very best day of the week!” Katie says. “So many possibilities lay ahead. Every Friday, I tell our team, ‘Only three sleeps to Monday!’ ”

And when others are in bed, in deep sleep, Katie is at the gym for her 3 a.m. daily workout.

“One of my passions in life is health and fitness,” she says. “I find it puts me in a great mood and provides me the energy I need for my life at Camp Smile.”

Renown for her leadership and versatility, Katie is thankful for her job and her Camp Smile family.

“I could not love and care for the Camp Smile families, doctors, and team members more,” Katie says. “The individuals who work at Camp Smile are the best group of people I could have ever of dreamed of working with.”

More about Katie

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I could read people’s minds. I think it would be fascinating to know what everyone around me is really thinking. I just don’t want them to be able to read my mind in return!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? First I would workout, shower, and then put my PJ’s for the rest of the day. Then I would curl up in front of the fireplace with a great book and a glass of wine. That. Sounds. Amazing.

What is your favorite snack? Really any type of fruit.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Laurie

Licensed Dental Assistant

Laurie calls herself a “water girl,” which shouldn’t come as a surprise since she relocated to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, a three-mile long, one-quarter mile wide island about 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach.

“The ocean is the best!” Laurie says. “I enjoy walks on the beach, sitting and watching the dolphins, or heading out on a paddle board. As long as my feet are wet, I’m happy!”

Naturally, Laurie’s favorite superhero is Aquagirl.

“How cool would it be to breathe under water?”

Laurie also enjoys working with numbers and solving complex problems.

“I can see the whole picture and put all the pieces back together,” she says. “Even if one of those pieces is missing I can find it!”

More about Laurie

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Sleep in, then an hour of hot yoga.

What is your favorite snack? That depends. Salty would be french fries or better yet, sweet potato fries! For sweets, hands down peanut M&Ms.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Bubble gum

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Scooby Doo. I’ve always loved a good mystery. And Scooby’s a dog, and I love dogs!

Ashley

Licensed Dental Assistant and Bachelor of Science (Healthcare Management)

Ashley started in karate at the age of 5, and she was a black belt by 11. Now a fourth-degree black belt, Ashley also taught karate for seven years.

That’s why she feels a special connection to a Star Wars character.

“Yoda’s the best!” Ashley says. “He is a Jedi Master, and he teaches people. I thought that was super awesome when I was a kid.”

Ashley enjoyed sparring, the forms, the detailed choreographed pattern of movements that showcase skill, and working with weapons.

“I like the bow staff,” Ashley says. “That’s probably another reason Yoda is so cool to me.”

On May 4th, Ashley usually sports Yoda gear at Camp Smile.

After teaching karate, Ashley discovered that she really enjoyed working with children, which is what prompted her to consider coming to Camp Smile.

“It was really fun,” she says. “I taught adults too but it wasn’t my thing. I like working with kids.”

More about Ashley

What superpower do you wish you had? To be able to speak and understand all languages fluently. People get scared to try to treat people as human beings, if you can’t understand them. I think language barriers can be a huge problem but it doesn’t have to be. I think everyone should know another language.

What is your actual superpower? To make everyone smile — and laugh!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Playing disc golf and eating at food trucks. Yum! I like taco trucks, and middle eastern.

What is your favorite snack? Mac and cheese and Wasabi peas

Why do you love your job? I get to be playful and silly all day and help kids have healthy, beautiful smiles to show off!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Orange creamsicle.

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Batman all day! He’s the best superhero. He wasn’t given his powers. He had to work towards them.

Michelle

Michelle loves so much about her hometown of Silver Lake, a town west of the Twin Cities that boasts a population fewer than nine hundred residents. She loves the tight-knit community. In her youth, she was among fifteen to twenty children in town who regularly played together. Most of all, she loves her family tradition of fishing.

While there are several lakes near Silver Lake, Michelle’s favorite is Collinwood.

“That’s where we would typically bring our family’s boat,” she recalls. “Fishing always brought joy to me.”

Her fondest childhood memory was — equipped with her own pole and Snoopy bobber — competing with her older sister and parents to catch the first fish. “Whoever did,” she says, “got a dollar.”

Naturally, her parents never won. The sister who didn’t catch the fish still received some money to buy a modest treat.

The town didn’t have a Dairy Queen, bowling alley, or anywhere else for kids to hang out; the only real places to get snacks were the pop and candy machines at the gas station.

These memories compelled Michelle to return to Silver Lake after earning her college degree in Mankato.

“I like the small town,” she says. “If you need something, you can always call the neighbor and get the help you need.”

After graduating and starting her new job, Michelle is ready to regularly resume fishing on the nearby lakes. Although she often goes with her boyfriend and dog, she also brings along nieces and nephews.

“I just love spending time on the lake, enjoying the great outdoors and sunshine,” she says. “We go wherever we hear they’re biting.”

More about Michelle

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Sleep in and then spend the day at the lake– enjoying each other’s company and making memories with family and friends. Catching fish would be a bonus!

What is your favorite snack? Jerky and cheese

Why do you love your job? The people—the patients, the families, and the coworkers—are amazing. It is fun to see children excited to be at Camp Smile and learning about the importance of oral health! Plus, where else can you bust out in song or dance and have others join in?

Favorite fluoride flavor? Bubble gum

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Finding Nemo

Felicia

For Felicia, there are no bad days on a golf course.

“Some people say, ‘I golfed horribly today.’ Well, that’s not me,” she says. “I just golf to have fun and hit the ball, and it’s something I can do my whole life. Plus, I get to wear really cute outfits!”

A gymnast growing up, Felicia picked up golf when her then boyfriend, invited her to play a round. They are now married, and they golf frequently together, especially on Sundays.

A native of Grand Rapids, the couple purchased a season pass at a local golf course there, so they sometimes play twice in one day when they visit.

Felicia does not enjoy putting, but she does like playing out of sand traps, which is why she sometimes aims for the bunkers.

The couple are also big fans of classic rock. Their dream day would be playing a round of golf with rock and roll legend, Alice Cooper, during the day and taking in a concert during the evening.

Rock on, Felicia!

More about Felicia

What superpower do you wish you had? The superpowers Wonder Woman has. She is such a positive role model for females at any age! She is resilient, strong, clever, elegant and her hair always looks good.

What is your actual superpower? I always find a way to make others laugh. Laughing helps you live longer, and I think it is so important to spread joy with a smile and a contagious laugh.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Ideally, some sort of classic rock concert like Guns N’ Roses or KISS, Van Halen (with David Lee Roth), Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, etc… My husband and I are diehards and try to attend every concert we can.

What is your favorite snack? Chocolate dipped strawberries or bread with my aunt’s famous seafood dip.

Why do you love your job? I love being able to see kids have a positive dental experience and being excited to come back! I have worked in several dental offices, and this is definitely the most welcoming.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Banana split

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Cinderella! My wedding dress was inspired by her ballgown when she met Prince Charming.

Drew O.

Drew’s father played golf casually and introduced him to the sport when he was in elementary school. Drew liked the sport, but he was too busy playing baseball, basketball, and hockey for most of his youth.

Then three years ago, Drew’s neighbor invited him to pick up golf clubs again, and now he can’t get enough!

“I thought it was easy (as a kid), but now I find it way more challenging, mentally and physically. I love to be outside and enjoying the game.”

Drew plays golf two or three a week, usually with friends but sometimes by himself. He has improved immensely, usually taking one more shot than the pre-determined number of strokes for each hole.

Drew has not made a hole in one yet, although he did hit the flag a few times.

His favorite course to play is Mississippi National in Red Wing, but his dream would be to go to Europe and play a round of golf in the morning then spend the rest of the day sightseeing.

More about Drew

What superpower do you wish you had? Absorption. I would find it fascinating to be able to instantly apply what you just took in.

What is your actual superpower? Quick wit. I have an ability to take stress out of any situation.

What is your favorite snack? I have a major sweet tooth, but if I had to narrow it down, it would be any ice cream that has chocolate in it.

Why do you love your job? The entire team loves to have fun and is like one big family.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Toy Story, Rocket Power and Scooby Doo.

Nichole F.

In one of her first jobs, Nichole remembers listening to her employer tell stories about different experiences and recipes as a cake decorator.

Nichole was fascinated.

Nichole decided to try one of the recipes, so she and her mom went to work.

That is when the two started a tradition of baking together.

“My mom always loved trying new recipes,” Nichole says. “So, it’s just kind of something I grew up with.”

As a little girl, Nichole enjoyed helping her mom in the kitchen. She would complete tasks like placing flour in the mixer.

By high school, they would team up in the kitchen and find inspiration in various baking shows. Some of their favorites were America’s Test Kitchen, Cupcake Wars, and The Great British Baking Show.

Nichole’s two sisters are both gluten-free, and they love her chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. She also enjoys making a chocolate torte and Bavarian cream, something her grandmother made every Christmas.

“I’m trying to start that tradition in my family,” she says.

Nichole’s favorite part of the entire process is decorating.

“It’s not so much about the actual baking, but the presentation aspect of it,” she says. “You can do whatever you want with a cake.”

More about Nichole

What superpower do you wish you had? Teleportation so I could get places faster and without having to get on an airplane.

What is your actual superpower? People say I have a big heart. I care about people and their well-being. At church, I help with special needs individuals.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend time with my nieces and nephews. We would get something to drink from Starbucks, and then do a little baking with a good movie on.

What is your favorite snack? Anything chocolate!

Why do you love your job? I love working with people. Families, their kids, and coworkers.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Anything Disney. Especially, Despicable Me because my nieces and nephews love it.

Katie

Restorative Function Licensed Dental Assistant

Katie just couldn’t picture herself an empty-nester after her son and daughter went off to college.

“I need something to take care of, I guess,” Katie says.

Over the years, she’s cared for many animals, including dogs, turtles, bunnies and fish. But her husband insisted a dog wasn’t an option because both of them work a fairly long distance from home.

So she opted for cats — and how she’s got three.

“They’re cute, and they have different personalities,” Katie says. “The little one is a bully to the older ones.”

The youngest is a Tabby cat named Ryder, while the older ones are called Mysti and Maya.

“Mysti has spots and Maya looks like the Sylvester the cartoon character,” Katie says. “Ryder is really spassy, and gets into a lot of mischief.”

Her other hobby is reading, particularly sci-fi books.

“My dad got me into it,” she says. “I just like the stories and adventures.”

There plenty of those at Camp Smile, too.

“Teeth plus kids equals awesome fun,” Katie says.

More about Katie

What superpower do you wish you had? Make food out of thin air!

What is your actual superpower? Animals come to me like Snow White!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Reading, and camping, and hiking and biking!

What is your favorite snack? Chocolate ice cream and coffee. It’s just stuff that I crave.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Bubble Gum!

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Scooby Doo!

Charee

Charee grew up playing flute, and her passion and talent inspired her to major in music in college; however, as she studied music history, Charee discovered a new fascination, Victorian art and literature. The Victorian Era is a part of British history, primarily during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 to 1901). Many ageless works are still widely admired from that age, with the literature often centering on the class-based society and growth of the country — and its people — during that time period.

Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray are among her favorite authors from that era. “In Bleak House, so much happens and almost like nothing happens at all,” Charee says of the Dickens novel. “My husband thinks it’s so boring.”

Charee spent a large portion of her adult youth traveling the world. She says, “the pyramids were the coolest thing I’ve seen!” She has also lived in England and France and travelled throughout Europe extensively.

More about Charee

What superpower do you wish you had? The power to teleport anywhere.

What is your actual superpower? I am an award-winning flute player!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Exploring something new I haven’t done before.

What is your favorite snack? I love coffee! That totally counts, right?

Why do you love your job? I love helping people and working with a team who loves what they do.

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? I love anything Disney! My son is currently obsessed with Frozen.

Brittany

In 2016, thanks to a friend, Brittany landed a job at St. Paul Harley-Davison, working in the clothing section. Friendly by nature, she got to know everyone there.

But after she left for another job, one of the sales associates there sent her a private message on Facebook.

“He was asking me out,” Brittany says.

Brittany declined.

But Jason persisted and, later on, followed up with another message. Brittany decided they could have breakfast and go for a ride on his motorcycle.

“The rest is history,” she says.

In September 2019, Jason’s motorcycle club made its annual trip to the Wilderness Resort. One evening, around 9 p.m., Brittany was admittedly “hangry,” upset that she hadn’t been able to eat dinner yet. But Jason insisted they walk to the beach.

Upon arrival, Brittany was welcomed by friends, torches and a blanket with rose petals and a small box laying on it.

Jason proposed, and Brittany accepted.

Brittany and her father are planning to take motorcycle lessons together. But Brittany now loves being on a bike.

“I love the thrill and freedom,” she says. “It’s you and the bike, and it gives you time to think. It’s a great stress reliever.”

As she did at the Harley-Davidson, though, Brittany loves helping families and patients at Camp Smile.

“I love being able to make kids comfortable in every situation,” she says.

More about Brittany

What superpower do you wish you had? The ability to see into the future!

What is one of your actual superpowers (something that makes you unique and special)? The ability to care about anyone. I love that my mom taught me to be a compassionate human. The world needs more of that. I love building people’s self-confidence and self-love up.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Literally anything my three-year-old wanted. I’d let her plan the day and then spend it with the rest of my family on my grandparent’s 80 acres. That is my happy place.

What is your favorite snack? Cool Ranch Doritos with my homemade dip.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Frozen! I love the message this movie gives kids. And honestly, I tear up every time I watch it because of the bond between Elsa and Anna. That’s how close I am to my two sisters. We would move mountains for each other.

Megan

If you’re hanging out with Megan and her family, you should not be surprised if a drumming jam session breaks out.

Megan comes from a family of drummers, with her parents meeting on the drum line in high school in Rocori, about 20 miles southwest of St. Cloud. In fact, the drum line was so successful that they won a few national competitions.

“They enjoyed music, and working hard at something,” Megan says. “They are perfectionists, and they practiced for hours and hours. They wanted it to sound perfect.”

Megan says there is a lot of debate on which of her parents is better, and they will pull out a snare pad and do rifts back and forth in the basement. When she was younger, Megan’s father played in a cover band.

Like her parents, Megan joined the drum line in high school, but she was quick to insist that her talent and fascination with the drums weren’t the same as her parents.

“I just like taking my anger out on the drums, the frustrations,” she says. “It’s a good stress reliever.”

One of the keys to a drum line is teamwork, and Megan is proud to bring that to Camp Smile and to all patients.

“I love the people I work with,” Megan says. “Everyone is so nice and willing to help.”

More about Megan

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I had the ability to control the weather. Goodbye snow, hello sunshine!

What is one of your actual superpowers (something that makes you unique and special)? I love to bake cookies, cakes, brownies, you name it, and I bake it! My favorite is banana bread. I’m gluten-free, so I do a lot of experimenting.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend my day up north, at Campers’ Paradise, with friends and family. It’s been a tradition for my family. My parents have been going all their life. We tent for a week, usually in August, and we bring up a boat, and we fish and relax.

What is your favorite snack? Peanut butter and pickle sandwich. Sweet and salty. Don’t knock it until you try it!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Bubble gum

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Lion King. I used to watch it multiple times a week when I was little.

Tyra

Tyra’s fascination with rocks started as soon as she could walk, when she was two years old. Her family often traveled to Lake Superior, and she was drawn to the cool and smooth rocks on the beach.

“We would do that every summer,” Tyra says. “My mom was a big D.I.Y. crafter, and she made a rock table with cement and put cool rocks on it. That was very heavy, as you could imagine.”

She considers herself a “rock person,” just like her mom. She was always on the hunt for cool looking rocks and then was eager to show her mother. As she got older, Tyra started to buy rocks that she thought were pretty.

In fact, Tyra says, she’s always got some rocks in her purse.

“I found a rock this morning, and it was the only rock in a 10-foot radius,” she says. “So I thought, ‘This is a sign,’ so I put it in my purse.”

Tyra especially likes crystals, and her favorite is a large amethyst she purchased for $60 from a wholesaler. 

“They are so fun, and I feel like a lot of crystals don’t have the shine to them that amethyst has,” Tyra says. “It helps with negative thoughts and stress relief. I also just think it’s very pretty.”

More about Tyra

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I had telekinesis. I think it would come in handy! I’m clumsy sometimes, so I could stop things from falling. Also, sometimes I don’t feel like getting up to grab something and this way I could bring it to me.

What is one of your actual superpowers? I can hold my breath for a minute.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend the day on the lake with my best friends and family! There’s nothing better than swimming and hanging out with loved ones!

What is your favorite snack?  Beef jerky, original flavor. It’s the perfect snack should you need something quick and filling.

Why do you love your job? I love teeth. Super weird, but they are an important part of our life!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Strawberry!

What is your favorite cartoon or animated movie? The Princess and the Frog

Thao

Thao was four years old when she first played a video game — and she was immediately hooked.

But she was a bit embarrassed when asked about the first games she played.

“Super Mario and Mortal Kombat,” Thao says, the latter a popular fighting game with violent moves and combinations. “But I didn’t really know what I was doing.”

As she got older, Thao says her interest in Super Mario grew, especially because it was a game that her mother liked to play. Then she continued to favor spinoff Mario games, like Super Smash Brothers.

“I have been a gamer my entire life, and it’s a big hobby. I have played multiple consoles. Pretty much anything, you name it,” she says. “It’s just something I love doing in my spare time.”

Does she play just for fun?

“I am very competitive when I play,” she says. “It’s such a big part of my life.”

Among her current favorite games are Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and League of Legends. Thao says gaming stimulates her brain, and she enjoys playing with family and friends. In fact, she has a hard time playing games without others now.

“I love gaming so much, it’s sometimes hard to put it down,” she says. “But I get my focus.”

More about Thao

What superpower do you wish you had? The ability to make food appear, anytime, anywhere.

What is one of your actual superpowers? I’m an absolute care bear. I care a lot about everything I do and everyone I meet. I’m always looking to help!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Food adventure! I would first look up every place I want to eat and drink (restaurants, bakeries, dessert places, you name it!), and spend the entire day trying a little bit of everything.

What is your favorite snack? Mochi ice cream, strawberry or green tea flavors.

Why do you love your job? It’s exciting to work with a big, close team and interact with kids!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

What is your favorite cartoon or animated movie? Toy Story 3. I’ve seen this movie over six times, and I still cry every time.

Kritsana

Licensed Dental Assistant

Kritsana is proud to be from Prachinburi, Thailand, about an hour from Bangkok. She came to the U.S. about a dozen years ago, and she travels back there every other year.

Last year, she picked out a pendant for herself.

“It has lots of jewels, and it’s pretty,” she says. “And it represents myself and where I come from.”

In Thailand, women would wear such pendants for important events, such as weddings. But she is a part of a Thai dance troop in the Twin Cities, and she performs four or five times a year and always wears the pendant. That means she must train monthly and then weekly as they near an event.

Her dance experience also parallels her role at Camp Smile, where she’s thankful to be a part of such a great team. And because English isn’t her first language, Kritsana appreciates opportunities to help kids who are having trouble expressing their frustrations and troubles.

“I like to make other people happy,” she says.

Every other year, she and her son return to Thailand, usually in January.

“We try to go during our winter time, because it’s really hot in Thailand,” she says. “My teacher who used to tell us there’s Hot, Hotter and Hottest!”

More about Kritsana

What superpower do you wish you had? Read people’s minds, so I can help make them happy.

What is your actual superpower? Most people said I’m really good with young kids. I guess I’m a little kid whisperer.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? In the garden, planting flowers, vegetables, chili peppers, and cilantro.

What is your favorite snack? Watermelon, mango and chips, pickles and papaya salad

Why do you love your job? I love working with kids!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Tarzan and Avatar

Mindi

Licensed Dental Assistant

One of her fondest childhood memories was her family heading to Powder Ridge in Kimball.

“I grew up skiing,” Mindi says. “I have an older sister and two brothers, so it was a big deal for us to go. But it was a fun family outing.”

They went three or four times a year, and Mindi’s father, who had been a ski instructor in high school, taught all the kids. They mostly listened but also annoyed him by running over his skis.

“He hated that,” she says. “But we did it to pick on dad.”

After high school, Mindi and her husband tried trick skis — and fell in love.

“I ski backwards and do 360s and jumps,” she says. “It was scary the first time but it was also fun!”

Just as her father did, Mindi enjoys encouraging and pushing children.

“I love helping kids,” she says, “and helping them have confidence in their smiles!”

More about Mindi

What superpower do you wish you had? My superpower would be teleportation. So I can get to places way faster!

What is your actual superpower? I can shed a positive light on anything!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend the day in Duluth with my husband and kids. We love going for walks along the boardwalk

What is your favorite snack? Ice cream, any flavor.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Walterberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Anything with Winnie the Pooh. He looks huggable!

Danielle

Licensed Dental Assistant

Time is tricky for Danielle. For instance, if she could pick any superpower, she thinks she would enjoy time travel. But her actual superpower is being a mom, which means she is a master at juggling her two daughters’ activities, practices and games, piano recitals, musicals and band concerts. Oh, and her family also has an adorable English Bull Dog!

So what would the Hamburg, Minn., native do if she had a free day all to herself?

“Absolutely nothing!” she says. “I am always on the go, and it would be nice to have a day to sit and relax.”

Not that she’s complaining.

She is thankful for her family, and she is thankful for her job, which allows her to work with children.

“Every day is a new adventure. I love making them feel confident at their dental visit, especially when they are nervous,” Danielle says. “All of the staff and doctors are wonderful people to work with, which makes every day enjoyable.”

More about Danielle

What did you pick your prop? I have played volleyball and have had a love for the sport since I was young. I still play in rec leagues, and enjoy watching my daughter’s play as well.

What is your favorite snack? Chips and salsa.

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? I love all Disney movies, but I have two favorites: “Beauty and the Beast,” and “The Little Mermaid.”

Favorite fluoride flavor? Vanilla Cupcake.

Heidi

Licensed Dental Assistant

Heidi’s earliest memories often center around Disney characters and movies.

Lion King was the first movie she ever watched, around the age of 5, and her aunt and uncle would always bring back souvenirs from their annual trips to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Growing up, her family didn’t go on vacations. But fifth grade provided some firsts for Heidi: First time on a plane, and first trip to Disney World.

“We didn’t know what to expect. I’m from a small town; I called Plymouth the city!” Heidi says. “But all of it was magical and even better than I imagined.”

On that first trip, Heidi didn’t much care for the rides. She was all about getting autographs from and taking pictures alongside the characters.

“I went back a few years ago, and we did all four parks in one day. It was intense,” Heidi recalls.

Heidi says she appreciates the good, classic stories about learning. She prefers classics to contemporary movies like Frozen.

Just as Disney has made a huge impact in her life, Heidi also believes Camp Smile can be a safe and positive place for children.

“I love the difference we can make in the kids’ lives, showing them the dentist is not scary,” she says. “It’s fun to see the kids progress, grow and become more comfortable.”

More about Heidi

What superpower do you wish you had? Teleportation to save travel time.

What is your actual superpower? I have a big heart and love to make others happy. It’s all about others for me.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Sleep in and be with my dog (it’s all about the snuggles!) and my family.

What is your favorite snack? PB & J, mac and cheese, pizza and ice cream. I basically have a child’s palate. Sandwiches with just meat and bread.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Walterberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Descendants, Lion King, Inside Out.

Liz

In middle school, Liz and her friends roller-bladed around Big Lake.

“Everyone would start at the beach,” she recalls, “then go around the lake and end up back at the beach. Any activity around the lake was a highlight.”

The trip was about four miles, and she enjoyed seeing people boating or swimming on the lake, or jogging, biking or walking dogs around it.

But she needed a winter activity, too.

“So in eighth grade I taught myself how to snowboard,” she says. “I didn’t have any trouble learning.”

Though she still snowboards, she rollerblades more frequently, often in the evening when the sun is setting. In her current neighborhood, there’s no lake, so she rides on nearby trails.

Another fond experience from her youth that she still clings to is Camp Smile; Liz has been seeing Dr. Dan since she was three years old.

“I liked it so much I had to come back!” Liz says. “I was his patient until I was 19 years old, and I never had a bad experience at the dentist office, so that made me want to pursue a career in the field.”

She now works at Camp Smile, and she plans to attend college next fall to study dental hygiene.

More about Liz

What superpower do you wish you had? Time travel. Overall, it would be to go backwards and re-live the good times I’ve had, but I don’t want to see the future!

What is your actual superpower? My superhuman thirst for knowledge and completing school.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Go to the Great Minnesota Get Together with my mom. My family is really big into the State Fair; we go a couple times a year. Pronto Pups. Cheese Curds. Corn Fritters. Corn on the cob. We go several times, so we can eat a little bit of everything. Eating and walking around, and people watching.

What is your favorite snack? Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.

Why do you love your job? The amazing staff makes the job fun and thrilling.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint.

Morgan

Morgan had a revelation while working on a clay project in her seventh-grade art class. She realized she had talent and passion as an artist. So she continued to work with clay and did some abstract painting and drawing and even some art on computers. 

But her proudest piece sits in the family room of her parents. It’s a tribute to her grandparents, who often took care of her when she was a little girl.

“My grandmother was into gardening, and my grandpa was always outside,” Morgan recalls.

So as a high school senior, Morgan came up with the idea to make clay sculpture of flowers — about the height of pencils — emerging from a pile of dirt.

“It represented life after someone leaves, that they’re still there for you,” Morgan says.

The tribute won several awards and many compliments from family members.

Naturally, in Morgan’s free time, she still enjoys painting, crafting and drawing.

“Being creative helps me relieve stress and wind down after a busy day,” she says.

Morgan still gets requests, too.

A few years ago, her little sister Abby was really into Monster High, so Morgan painted a mural on Abby’s bedroom wall.

Morgan says she’s able to connect with some kids, who also enjoy art.

“And because I’m creative,” she says, “I also come up with stories to help keep the kids calm.”

More about Morgan

What superpower do you wish you had? To control the weather because then I can make it summer whenever I want to or make it stop raining or snowing!

What is your actual superpower? The ability to work with children and its easy for kids to feel comfortable with me. I’ve always been told that I’m great with kids.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend it with my nieces and nephew by making some type of craft or project.

What is your favorite snack? Grapes

Why do you love your job? I love hanging with all the kids!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Grape

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? All three Hotel Transylvania movies and my favorite part is, “I don’t say blah, blah, blah.”

Kaylee

Many Minnesota families have cabins.

However, Kaylee is proud that her family’s cabin on Lake Minnetonka’s Big Island dates back more than a century.

“There’s just a lot of history and family life…a lot of memories made,” Kaylee says. “I grew up there. The cabin definitely means a lot to our family, and none of us want to sell in the near future.”

It started modestly as an ice cabin but slowly evolved over the years. By the 1960s, it had transformed into a house—complete with indoor plumbing. Historically, the cabin is the busiest over the Fourth of July holiday when everyone in the family sleeps over and watches fireworks over the lake.

“You’d feel the fireworks off the water,” Kaylee recalls. “It was definitely really fun.”

Kaylee’s family lived twenty minutes from the cabin, so they were fixtures there throughout her childhood. She fondly recalls sitting on her grandpa’s lap as they drove the boat across Lake Minnetonka. Grandpa John took her and others on many adventures, including tubing, water skiing, and sailing. After their activities, they’d roast hot dogs and s’mores over a fire.

“He was the most generous person,” Kaylee says of her grandpa. “Very positive…and he loved the cabin. He always had projects going on, [was] always trying to enhance it. He had ten sets of every tool and a workshop in the basement. He loved to see people
enjoy the cabin.”

The boats were slowly upgraded: Row boat, fishing boat, speed boat.

What is Kaylee’s favorite activity? Jet-skiing.

“I love going fast and being aggressive and getting some air,” she says. “It’s just thrilling with the wind blowing in your hair.”

Kaylee is thankful for her new family at Camp Smile, where the culture is encouraging and positive.

“I’m super grateful for the Camp Smile family,” Kaylee says. “We help each other out, and we’re willing to teach. I just feel at home here. I now enjoy coming to work and…the experience that we create for patients.”

More about Kaylee

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I enjoy being outdoors. In the summer, I’d love to be at the cabin or go rock climbing. In the winter, I would probably spend it ice skating; but, it would be really fun to go snowmobiling in the Colorado mountains.

What superpower do you wish you had? To be fully energized without the need for sleep.

What is one of your actual superpowers? I am wonderful at encouraging and building others up so that they are better off than they were before we met.

What is your favorite snack? Either ice cream, chocolate, or tiramisu.

Why do you love your job? The positive and friendly people and the encouraging learning environment.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Strawberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? How to Train Your Dragon

Ashley N

In her earliest memories, Ashley recalls her mother reading aloud to her. Trips to the Jessie F. Hallett Memorial Library in her hometown of Crosby, Minnesota, were regular occurrences. By the age of four, Ashley had a “go-to” book.

“It was Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” Ashley recalls. “I just liked all the rhyming.”

Using different voices, her mom was very animated when reading stories.

Her mother helped to instill in Ashley a love of reading. However, Ashley’s passion for reading waned over the years—until J.K. Rowling released Harry Potter.

“It was really what got me to read again,” Ashley says. “It’s about adventure. Now, I’ve been reading ever since.”

Ashley currently favors historical fiction, and she highlights The Help as one of her favorite books.

“You kind of learn something, and it’s pretty interesting,” she says.

After moving to the Twin Cities from Duluth, Ashley now spends more time with her two-year-old niece Maddi. Of course, she reads with her. It goes without saying that she must pass along her childhood favorite to Maddi.

“And she loves it!” Ashley says of reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to her niece.

Ashley’s literary passion is one of the ways she connects with children.

“They’re so interesting,” Ashley says of kids. “…[W]hen they’re scared, I love to get them through the appointment and show them that going to the dentist isn’t scary. And I love all their stories. Sometimes, they make your day with their random, funny stories.”

More about Ashley

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend the whole day shopping! I love, love shopping!

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I could fly.

What is one of your actual superpowers? I have been told I have a soft heart and calming personality that comes in handy when working with kiddos.

What is your favorite snack? My favorite snack is cheese!

Why do you love your job? I have been working with kids my entire dental career and love it! I love making kids’ dental experience a good time and just love chatting with the kids. They always tell the best stories.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Bubble gum

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? The Emoji Movie

Serenia N

Music was a constant throughout Serenia’s childhood. Her mother always had music playing in their home, and they would sing along on car rides. Her mother was intentional to expose her to music from different cultures. They’d attend events with Native American instruments or African drums.

“She wanted us to hear other types of music,” Serenia says.

Serenia’s mother instilled a love of music in her. As a result, she played the violin and enjoys the symphony and orchestra.

“I have an all-around love of music,” Serenia says. “I played violin for 10 years, and my daughter plays the violin as well.”

Serenia enjoys closing her eyes and hearing the beautiful sounds violin strings create.

“It kind of takes you out of the moment,” she says.

When she’s listening to music (often with her headphones on), Serenia favors songs from a specific decade.

“I am a child of the 80s! Hair bands, power ballads, music that stands the test of time…my daughter doesn’t appreciate it!”

When she wears her headphones, Serenia often closes her eyes and pretends she’s performing the song in front of 35,000 screaming fans. In reality, she’s doing the dishes, laundry, or other household chores.

Be warned: If you do not have a lot of time, do not ask Serenia to name some of her favorite songs from the 1980s.

“I could go on for hours!”

More about Serenia

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would walk around the Sculpture Garden and Loring Park, which are two of my favorite places.

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I had the ability to time travel. To observe some of our defining moments in history would be amazing.

What is one of your actual superpowers? According to my daughter, I’m the best mom a girl can have. I think that’s super.

What is your favorite snack? French fries

Why do you love your job? No two days are the same. It’s both exciting and challenging. I get to meet new people every day.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Walterberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? That’s a tough one. Combination of Moana, Coco, Zootopia, A Goofy Movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Big Hero 6, Shrek 2 and The Amazing World of Gumball.

Ashley L

When she’s not working, Ashley is probably traveling — and we don’t mean by foot, bike, or even car! She averages one trip a month, so it’s not surprising she’s already been to Washington, Oregon, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alaska this year.

Ashley searches for budget-friendly flights to locales that are usually warm and near water, and she loves to sample new foods, explore new landmarks and landscapes, and discover new cultures and experiences.

There’s one catch: Ashley doesn’t like to plan much.

Take her trip to Hawaii. She and a friend did some basic research, but they mostly left their schedule open.

“Sometimes, it stresses me out more to have a set itinerary,” Ashley says. “I just kind of like to go with the flow.”

They visited two islands in Hawaii, and they rode a moped and snorkeled. The highlight was driving up a mountainside (8,000 feet above sea level) and watching the sunset.

“We were above the clouds! It felt like you were in an airplane, but we were in a compact car. It was breathtaking.”

Ashley has a natural curiosity, which also helps her connect with people.

In the future, Ashley hopes to broaden her travel adventures to other countries.

“I really want to explore Greece with a few of my friends,” Ashley says. “I have always dreamed of traveling there but haven’t made it yet. Hopefully, I will someday.”

More about Ashley

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I could touch people’s hands and feel exactly what they feel (pain, emotions, etc…). When people say something hurts, we don’t know how it actually feels to them. If someone is excited, you would be able to share that exact feeling!

What is one of your actual superpowers? I don’t know if it’s a superpower, but one unique thing about me is that my fingers, thumbs, and arms are all really bendy and double-jointed.

What is your favorite snack? Anything cheesy

Why do you love your job? I love coming to work and helping kids have an awesome experience at the dentist like I did when I was growing up. It’s so fun to see patients progress from visit to visit.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Orange cream

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. “Tigger” was my nickname when I was little because I had so much energy and would literally bounce all over.

Katie H.

Katie’s passion comes from her pain.

Growing up, Katie struggled with an undiagnosed learning disability. Although she tried hard, she often got Fs on her assignments, which impacted her confidence and others’ expectations of her in school.

Katie’s doctors and parents tried multiple different options, but nothing seemed to work. Eventually, doctors discovered Katie had food allergies.

She was 19 years old.

Katie was allergic to dairy and sugar.

“Sugar was the worst thing for my body because it completely over-stimulated me,” Katie says. “I think that triggered a lot of my struggles in life and not learning as easily as others.”

Never projected as college material, Katie not only attended, she excelled.

“I was taking the bad sugars out of my body and it was starting to heal, so my brain was consistently clear,” she says. “I just felt good. I felt happier.”

For a while, Katie worked at Lifetime Fitness as a personal trainer and coaching children, and she’s fully embraced a healthy lifestyle.

“I just believe food can be our medicine,” Katie says. “I also love to weight train. You can exercise all day long, but when you eat the right foods, you get the results too.”

Given her tough experiences, Katie enjoys working with children.

“Children that struggle with food sensitivities, my heart goes out to them,” Katie says. “It’s such a common thing, and I think it’s getting even worse.”

Katie is also drawn to Camp Smile because one of the consistently positive experiences of her childhood was visiting her dental office.

“I had the best dental assistants,” Katie says. “They were just so positive and happy.”

More about Katie

What superpower do you wish you had? Healing powers

What is your actual superpower? I can carry a tune, as in sing.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? In the sun on a huge houseboat with family and friends.

What is your favorite snack? Trail mix

Why do you love your job? I love the kindness in children and the trust they give me in caring for their teeth.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Walterberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Tangled

Leah

When Leah was ten years old, she entered an acrylic landscape painting into a 4-H contest.

“I won a blue ribbon,” she says, “at that point I thought, ‘I’m an artist!'”

Her interest in art started far earlier though, even before pre-school. She enjoys all types of arts, from paintings to sketches and drawings.

During the COVID-19 quarantine, Leah stayed plenty busy, sketching and painting from her kitchen table. She works on art daily, sometimes even on napkins. One of her sisters took a picture of the moon over the lake behind their parents’ home, so Leah painted that picture and gifted it to her sister for Christmas.

Though she enjoys working on landscape images, Leah has begun to sketch people and dogs; sometimes, she’ll draw with her opposite hand in different positions. “I have a significant amount of time to work on my art,” she says, “and it’s keeping me busy and happy.”

More about Leah

What superpower do you wish you had? I really wish I had another set of arms. If I had an extra arm or two, my life would be a lot easier. I would also love to be able to teleport anywhere at anytime.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would start with brunch, then some yoga or a walk with friends, and some shopping. I like spending my evenings outside by a fire with friends and family making S’mores.

What is your favorite snack? Trail mix or fruit.

Why do you love your job? Working with kids is so rewarding! I love when we work together as a team to get the job done. It’s fun to hear the stories kids tell!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint. I love the freshness.

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? My favorite cartoon is Avatar: The Last Airbender. My favorite animated movie is Finding Nemo.

Stacia

The family tradition started in elementary school. “Every single night, my mom gave us ice cream,” Stacia recalls. “Just a treat after dinner. My mom still does this, whenever I go visit.” Two scoops as a kid, not any particular brand or taste, though she does prefer chocolate.

Stacia acknowledges that was not the healthiest habit, but she says she was a very active child, playing outside alongside neighbors in Norwood, just west of Chaska. “We would explore, bike around town and make forts,” Stacia says. “During the summer, we were always spending quality time at the pool in town.”

Stacia who is a mother now herself, says she no longer indulges in ice cream daily, but her mother has extended the frozen treat tradition to Stacia’s son. “He spends a lot of time with my parents,” Stacia says. “I feel guilty, so we don’t have it every day, but we still enjoy it plenty of nights.”

On Mondays or Tuesdays, Stacia takes her son to Culver’s, where she enjoys a chocolate Oreo or chocolate peanut butter Concrete Mixer. Pretty much any flavor tastes amazing. Eating ice cream is a good stress reliever, and it’s good for my soul.”

More about Stacia

What superpower do you wish you had? Time travel so I could go back to different parts of my life, especially to times where I could be with my grandma again. I spent all my summers with her.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would do something relaxing such as getting my nails done, having a spa day, or sit by the water and take it all in.

What is your favorite snack? Crackers and cheese. Fruit.

Why do you love your job? I love working with kids! I love seeing them smile and I love getting them to laugh. All the stories kids tell are the best!

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? I love watching Avatar.

Frida

During the pandemic, with more idle time, Frida returned to one of her favorite activities from childhood: Painting. Starting at age 4, Frida was fascinated by watercolors and crayons, so she embraced all art-related school projects. One of her most memorable was a scrapbook based on the Dork Diaries that featured her writing and drawing.

“I’ve always just liked art,” Frida says. “Recently, with more time, I started painting again.”

Frida also does some landscapes, but she’s especially interested in cartoon art. SpongeBob SquarePants is one of her favorites.

A native of Shakopee, Frida headed to community college after high school, then specialized in dental hygiene. She took a break from artwork during that time but has now restarted that passion.

At Camp Smile, Frida says her listening skills help her.

“I like to listen to others and make them feel they are valued and loved,” she says.

More about Frida

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I could fly! If I could fly, then I would go to any place in the world that I wanted, and I could bring my friends with me on a fun ride to that place.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would start off my day by going to have a nice, big breakfast at Original Pancake House. Then I would go home and have a TV show marathon.

What is your favorite snack? Sour Patch Kids

Why do you love your job? I love my job because I like to see the smiling faces that come into the clinic!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Bubble gum, of course

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? SpongeBob

Laura

It all started with a gift.

During her college studies in Mankato, while working part-time at Cub Foods, Laura was at the service desk helping a customer who approached with a pair of succulent plants.

“Those are cute,” Laura told the customer.

The customer smiled, and she immediately handed Laura one of the succulents. Laura declined, but the customer insisted.

“That started my obsession,” Laura says. “I’m kind of a crazy plant lady.”

That succulent from 2015 is still thriving, but it’s hardly alone; Laura enjoys visiting the floral section at stores and greenhouses.

Her favorite are her snake plants.

“They’re really hard to kill,” she says, “and it’s kind of cool to learn about them.”

Her succulents, for instance, don’t like too much water. In fact, Laura has found a community of others passionate about plants on a Facebook group. Currently, she estimates she has 30 plants in her two-bedroom apartment.

She says tending to the plants has taught her patience. The original succulent, for example, hasn’t grown much.

“But it’s alive and green,” she says, “and doesn’t get mad at me like my other plants.”

More about Laura

What superpower do you wish you had? Green thumb so I can fill my apartment with plants, and they will never die.

What is one of your actual superpowers? Patience.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend a free day sleeping in and going and getting coffee, shopping at Target and finishing the day at the lake with a good book and kayaking.

What is your favorite snack? Reese’s or anything with peanut butter.

Why do you love your job? I love creating positive experiences at the dental office, seeing smiles, and making a difference by building friendships with new people and families.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Frozen 1 and 2.

Julia

When she was a little girl growing up in Maple Grove, Julia loved her family’s Friday night tradition.

“I’m a board game maniac,” Julia says. “I loved playing them. It’s also fun to get together with family and friends and have something fun to do.”

Go Fish and Crazy Eights were early games she learned and favored, then she transitioned to Apples to Apples and Monopoly. But there was one game others didn’t like playing with her.

“The game of Life. Everyone thought I cheated at it, and no one wanted to play against me,” says Julia, who usually chose to be a police officer. “Even now, I ask my sister, and she still says, ‘No.’ “

For a friend’s birthday, Julia once customized a Chutes and Ladders board, with fun challenges like jumping jacks.

When she wasn’t able to see family as often due to COVID-19, Julia says they played together online, via the Chips and Guac Game of the Houseparty app.

“It was fun, but not the same,” she says. “I still like doing it in person, and I like the old-school games, too.”

Julia adds that talking to young patients about their favorite board games is one of her go-to conversation starters.

More about Julia

What superpower do you wish you had? Teleportation or fly. I love to travel, so if I could save travel time, and fly to Greece for the day, that would be awesome! Plus, I think it would be neat to fly at night and see the city.

What is one of your actual superpowers? I love to use my bubbly personality to spread positivity and happiness.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I love spending time with family and friends. My perfect free day in the summer would be swimming and boating at the lake. In the winter, I enjoy snuggling by the fireplace while watching movies and eating popcorn all day.

What is your favorite snack? Chips and guacamole. Yum!

Why do you love your job? I love working with kids! My goal is to help make a positive impact on happy and healthy smiles.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Finding Nemo. Every time I watch it, it’s fun and cheerful, and there are parts that I cry.

Arianna

Arianna loves traveling and enjoys taking road trips throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. She was disappointed when a long-planned trip to Croatia in June had to be postponed because of COVID-19.

“I like traveling there because it’s fun to see my family and where my dad grew up,” Arianna says. “I lived there for three years when I was younger, and I’ve been back twice. I am hoping to go back next year.”

When she does, Arianna wants to visit other countries such as Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey. In fact, the latter country is piquing the interest of her, her mom, and sisters.

“We’re all watching a Turkish TV show together,” she says, “and we’re all obsessed!”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Arianna wishes her superpower was teleportation.

“That way,” she says, “I can go anywhere whenever I want.”

More about Arianna

What is one of your actual superpowers? I have been told that my laughter makes everyone happy. I just laugh at everything throughout the day!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? With my family and friends, playing card games.

What is your favorite snack? Any and all chips!

Why do you love your job? I love kids and teaching and helping educate patients on their oral hygiene. I also love my team!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Aladdin.