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

Bridget

Following a ski accident, Bridget endured an extensive rehab to heal her knee. Then, during her final session, her physical therapy handed her a registration for a 5k.

“He was teasing me because he knew how much I hated to run,” Bridget recalls. “He said, ‘You’re ready to run a race!’ ”

To his surprise, though, Bridget accepted the challenge and completed the Arboretum Bud Break 5k in Chanhassen.

“It was really hard, with a lot of hills,” she says. “But after that, I have never looked back.”

A competitive gymnast growing up, Bridget appreciated the solitude of running and being outside.

“It’s time in my own head to think,” she says. “Good, quality meditation time.”

Bridget runs two to three times a week, and she annually runs in the Big Woods Run 10k in Faribault as well as Lola’s 5k Fun Run in Waconia with her children.

“I love running! I make turtles look fast,” she says, “but I love the peace of a good run.”

Her focus is fun, something she gets to emphasize at Camp Smile.

“Our team is so good at what we do,” she says, “and it makes it so much fun to watch kids have such a positive dental experience.”

More about Bridget

What superpower do you wish you had? Superhuman strength. I was a single mom for many years, and I moved quite a bit. I always felt that I lacked the physical strength to move. Now I love lifting weights and the challenge when someone says, ‘This is heavy.’ And my name means strong!

What is your actual superpower? I have nice handwriting. People tell me that all the time! My parents were both artists, so maybe that’s inherited.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? With my children, outside. We like to run, hike and play catch.

What is your favorite snack? Cheese. I’ll try any cheese.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Blue raspberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Lilo and Stitch

Vicki

The magic and memory of Vicki’s first vacation still brings a smile to her face.

It was the dead of winter in the Twin Cities, and Vicki, her older brother Rick and her parents boarded a plane… and landed in paradise.

They were in Hawaii, over her sixth birthday, walking on a beach, enjoying a lūʻau and listening to locals sing her Happy Birthday in English and Polynesian.

“I loved it,” Vicki recalls. “I really need to go back there!”

Vicki’s parents instilled in her a love for travel, something she’s passed on to her own daughter Liz. They recently returned from a trip together to New York, where they visited Times Square, Central Park and the Museum of Modern Art.

“There are so many places I want to go,” Vicki says, rattling off Greece, Paris and Italy. “I’m already planning something for March.”

Vicki says she embraces everything about exploring other places, from the people to the food and culture.

“I love everything about travel,” she says.

So her fictional superpower isn’t the least bit surprising; Vicki would want to fly and be able to go anywhere. Her actual superpower, though, helps her thrive at Camp Smile.

“I am very accepting of people,” she says, “and I love who I work with. They make every day fun.”

More about Vicki

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would just be with family and friends, relaxing.

What is your favorite snack? Any kind of chips with any kind of dip!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint 

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? The Flintstones and the Jetsons

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.

Sarah

Sarah’s perfect day starts with simple pancakes, made alongside her three boys.

“Bisquick because they’re not about the fancy stuff,” Sarah says. “We attempt to make shapes but that hasn’t worked out too well.”

Her youngest sons, Nolen (7) and Braxton (4), like to help her make the batter, while Wesley (8) is the pancake flipper.

Add bacon to the mix, and they couldn’t be happier.

The rest of the day would be full of bubbles (Braxton’s favorite!), drawing with chalk in the driveway and playing soccer and freeze tag at a field near her house. Only Braxton doesn’t quite grasp the latter game.

“He doesn’t understand you have to stand still until someone unfreezes you,” she says. “So he just keeps running around!”

Turkey sandwiches are popular with the boys, then they’d make homemade pizzas for dinner.

“I love my three boys, and they are my world,” Sarah says.

Sarah has no trouble explaining why she is grateful to work at Camp Smile.

“I love to be around kids,” Sarah says, “and being a mom, I have more patience and know how to talk to children.”

But the youngest clients are not the only people she appreciates; the Camp Smile team is a joy to work with.

“My team is amazing,” she says, “and they can easily put a smile on my face!”

More about Sarah

What superpower do you wish you had? Time travel but without interrupting the space continuum.

What is your actual superpower? Doing multiple activities at the same time. Mom Power!

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Anything and everything my boys want to do.

What is your favorite snack? Spicy Nacho Doritos

Favorite fluoride flavor? Berry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Little Mermaid

Harriet

Harriet’s hometown of Augusta, Georgia, may be known for one of the world’s most prestigious and famous golf courses. To many others, it’s known for some of Harriet’s delicious delicacies!

Harriet’s passion for baking is rooted in her community and family history.

“In the South, it’s very family-oriented,” Harriet says. “And we’d have huge family gatherings a few times a week — especially Sundays after church.”

While the family hosting the gatherings rotated on a weekly basis, they had to be prepared to host at least sixty people.

“That’s nothing!” Harriet says. “We’d have eighty-five to ninety people at Christmas.”

There might have been a fish fry, meatloaf, barbecue, or a roast. There was always an abundance of sides, including baked macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, collard greens, and cornbread.

Harriet’s favorite foods were dessert, specifically her grandmother’s sweet potato pie and caramel cakes.

“I would just sit in the kitchen and help all day,” Harriet says. “Just for the smells.”

Harriet has modified her grandmother’s recipes — for instance, adding chocolate and Heath bars to the caramel cakes. She also has added some other staples such as key lime pie, peach cobbler, banana wafer pudding, and banana wafer pudding cake.

Though most of her family still lives in Georgia, Harriet regularly flies back to keep the tradition going.

“I always make it a point to plan something that is based around family,” she says. “When you don’t, people tend to stray and you don’t see them for a while.”

In January, she and her family, including her two children, will join other extended family members on a Caribbean cruise.

They’re expecting over one hundred people.

“I find that it’s important that you do create these traditions for your children,” Harriet says.

More about Harriet

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend my day with my daughter and son, trying new foods throughout the city. We are foodies.

What superpower do you wish you had? The ability to time travel. It would be wonderful to visit different eras.

What is one of your actual superpowers? I’ve been told my cooking puts smiles on faces.

What is your favorite snack? Butter Pecan ice cream

Why do you love your job? I enjoy meeting people, and my coworkers are great!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Spearmint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Beauty and the Beast

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

Jenny

Restorative Function Licensed Dental Assistant

Jenny loves to travel, visiting 25 states and 18 countries.

“I love seeing different cultures, museums and old cities,” Jenny says. “I also love trying different foods.”

This year, Jenny traveled to the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium. In fact, Bruges — a city sometimes called the “Venice of the North” and a World Heritage Site of UNESCO — is her favorite destination ever.

I loved everything: the architecture, food and even the beer,” Jenny says. “And I’m not a big fan of beer, but loved it there!”

Next year, Jenny is planning to visit the Czech Republic and Austria.

What about her home country of Moldova?

She left in 1992, when her son was 8 years old, and they want to wait until her granddaughter is a few years older before they all go for a special visit.

I’ve never been back since I left,” Jenny says. “It’s been a long time, but we want to go back and show her.”

Nothing gives Jenny more joy than reading books or just playing with her granddaughter, who is three years old. But Jenny enjoys all children, which is why she adores her job at Camp Smile.

“I love spending time with kids,” Jenny says. “We have a very nice team that is so easy to work with.”

More about Jenny

What superpower do you wish you had? Several places at the same time

What is your actual superpower? Brighten up peoples day with smile and laughter

What is your favorite snack? Dark chocolate

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Lion King

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!

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

Medley

Certified Dental Assistant, Licensed Dental Assistant

Growing up in Brooklyn Park, Medley’s father tended a garden in their yard.

“He grew everything,” she says, “and my mom would can stuff. They were Depression Era kids, so they didn’t waste anything.”

There was lettuce, radishes and corn, among other veggies and fruits, in the garden that was roughly 20 x 75 feet.

“You could only get one ear of corn on one stalk, and we had rows and rows of it,” she says. “But it was a lot of work.”

Medley’s father instilled in her a love for plants and flowers.

“I just like playing in dirt,” Medley says. “I have a great patch of purple coneflowers, and the Monarch butterflies are all over them!”

That patch, she says, actually moved. But she carefully cultivated its growth, which is the same approach Camp Smile takes in working with young patients. She recalls one 2 1/2-year-old, who was having a difficult first visit. But Medley got him to settle down and cleaned his teeth while he laid on his tummy.

“I love the kids who come in and are nervous,” she says, “and I like to work with them so they are not.”

More about Medley

What superpower do you wish you had? Peace. I would like everyone be peaceful.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Furniture store shopping, but just looking.

What is your favorite snack? Nachos. I like the basics. I want them to be flat, not stacks of them, with refried beans, cheese and Jalapeño. Don’t put lettuce on mine!

Why do you love your job? I love kids!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Walterberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Jetsons

Amanda

Licensed Dental Assistant

Like a lot of moms, Amanda searched for ways to entertain her child.

Around the age of 2, Amanda’s daughter Maliha seemed fascinated by a popular kid’s activity, blowing bubbles.

“That was her favorite thing,” Amanda says. “I bought a bubble set, and she was fascinated.”

Amanda doesn’t recall if she was into bubbles as a little girl. But Maliha, now 6 1/2, has since “graduated” to the next level.

“We got into the bigger ones, the ones that make super big bubbles,” Amanda says.

Being Minnesotans, though, bubbles are mostly reserved for the warm-weather months.

Still, bubbles also represent Amanda’s bubbly personality.

“I’m always upbeat, happy and smiling,” she says. “I’ve always been this way.”

She says her personality helps kids feel comfortable and more open to new experiences. Usually, her smile works. But sometimes, she has to take things to another level: Show and Tell.

“Nothing too extravagant,” Amanda says. “The water, and Mr. Thirsty, and the lighted mirror. Show them how the chair goes up and down, kind of like a ride.”

More about Amanda

What superpower do you wish you had? Change based off activity.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Relax on a beach. Any beach. I’ve never been to Mexico. I’d want to try something different, and maybe go snorkeling.

What is your favorite snack? Pickles and papaya salad

Favorite fluoride flavor? Orange

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Moana

Cassie

Licensed Dental Assistant

When she’s asked to imagine a super power, Cassie, the mother of two young kids, cannot help but choose something practical.

“I would want to be super fast or fly,” Cassie says. “To get from place to place with ease.”

Her children, Jaxon and Caliah, both are in swimming and gymnastics, and her son also plays hockey.

“They don’t sit still,” Cassie says, “and they keep me running.”

In her spare time, Cassie also tends to her two dogs, a Cocker Spaniel named Whiskey and a Shepherd mix named Bailey.

They enjoy long family walks around Weaver Lake or at Elm Creek Park Reserve. She enjoying being outside with her family and, of course, smiling and having fun with them — something she also cherishes in her job.

“People say I am great with kids,” Cassie says.

More about Cassie

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Alone or perhaps at the massage parlor.

What is your favorite snack? Crackers and cheese

Why do you love your job? I get to have fun!

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Despicable Me 3

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.

Sally

Licensed Dental Assistant

Nothing gives Sally greater joy than a hike in the woods. It’s not just being outside, it’s also reveling in the beauty of nature and trying to document them with her Canon camera.

“I like to travel and capture memories with people I love,” she says. “It’s a personal hobby.”

Her favorite trip was to Kauai, a Hawaiian island fittingly nicknamed the “Garden Isle.” She enjoyed the exotic plants and the breathtaking scenes of the months.

She creates small picture books on Shutterfly of her adventures.

Locally, she likes to hike with her Shih Tzu/ Bichon Frise mix named Snowball.

“We go to random parks,” she says, noting that they have recently visited Duluth and Stillwater.

Just as she appreciates the outdoors, Sally also appreciates her Camp Smile family, which has been there to support her.

“They are like an amazing family like I’ve never known,” she says. “So wonderful. I am so grateful. And the most amazing kids who make every day special.”

More about Sally

What superpower do you wish you had? Able to fly without wings! I did skydiving with an instructor over Lake Superior. It would be nice to fly without wings, and travel around the world.

What is your actual superpower? I am very open-minded and don’t take criticism to heart. I respect everyone’s opinion.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Take my mother out on a mother-daughter date. I want to spend time with her and have dinner at a fancy restaurant. But we’re both always busy.

What is your favorite snack? Fruits like passion fruit, longan, Rambutan (chom chom), jackfruit

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? The Simpson’s

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.

Amber

Licensed Dental Assistant

She isn’t sure why, but Amber remembers that her mother invested a lot of time and energy into her hair.

“She always had me perfect, hair wise,” Amber recalls. “It was always on point. Not necessarily my clothes, but definitely my hair.”

She had 80’s style bangs, tight braids, curls; lots of different styles.

Amber’s mom favored her hair long, even though her mother kept her hair short.

Then Amber did something dreadful at the age of 5.

“I cut my own bangs,” she says. “I don’t know why I did it, but I just wanted them short, and I wanted something different.

“My mom cried for like a year.”

Amber learned to braid from her mother, and she started to practice on her dolls. Then, in middle school, she and her friends would dye and curl one another’s hair.

When she was 16, Amber visited Bridgewater College in Willmar to gauge career interests.

“I had to do an updo,” Amber says, referring to a woman’s hairstyle in which the hair is swept up and fastened away from the face. “I curled it and swooped it to one side and pinned it back. It could have been wedding hair. It was fabulous!”

Amber won an award.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m going to do this!”

Amber attended the famed Josef’s School of Hair Design in Fargo, North Dakota. She decided to change career course, but Amber still enjoys doing hair of her friends.

She never worked in a salon because she couldn’t imagine doing the same haircuts and braids all day.

That’s why she enjoys working at Camp Smile, where each day — and each patient — is different and unique.

“I love my job,” she says, “because I can have fun, be silly, laugh and sing all day long!”

More about Amber

What superpower do you wish you had? Teleporting. I can travel for free and save time! At the Eiffel Tower.

What is your actual superpower? I can sing and dance myself out of anything.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? Take a nap and watch Friends. And eat everything. Potato chips, ice cream. Junk food. Pure junk food.

What is your favorite snack? Candy! All of it! Caramel M&M. Peanut Butter M&M. I eat Snickers like they’re going out of style.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Walterberry

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? The Little Mermaid

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.”

Jenny N

As a little girl growing up in St. Bonifacius, Jenny’s mother made clothes, drapes, and slip covers to help support the family.

At Easter and Christmas, her mom showed off her sewing skills by designing and making Jenny and her three younger sisters matching dresses.

“We got comments all the time about how cute we were,” Jenny recalls.

Sometimes, she and her sisters wore the same dresses. On other occasions, they wore slightly different colors in the same style; however, they always wore matching hand-sewn bows.

“My mom was creative and very good,” Jenny says.

It was not until about six years ago that Jenny assumed a similar passion for sewing when she was influenced by her mother-in-law, who often sewed and quilted with her own twin sister.

“Anytime we’d hang out,” Jenny says, “they would quilt.”

Jenny and her sister-in-law decided to learn sewing around the same time and have made bags, purses, blankets, and teddy bears.

“It’s relaxing for me. It’s my happy place,” Jenny says. “I turn the music on, sit in the room, and just go to town.”

In fact, Jenny goes on an annual weekend “Quilting Retreat” with her sister-in-law and mother-in-law.

Just recently, she wrapped up a special project. Her husband is a volunteer firefighter, and one of their own firefighters died of a heart attack last year. Jenny wanted to make that individual’s two daughters and his wife Memory Teddy Bears.

With her mother-in-law’s guidance, Jenny had each of the girls and his wife pick out one of their dad’s favorite t-shirts and then sewed those shirts into a bear. Some of his ashes were placed near the teddy’s heart with a special saying on the foot: “This is a shirt I used to wear, hold it tight and know I am there. Love Daddy.” Each teddy bear typically takes about five to six hours to complete.

“They loved it,” Jenny proudly says.

As you can imagine, Jenny says the attention to detail in her hobby helps her at work.

“Everything has to be measured just perfectly, or it just doesn’t work and you have to start all over,” she says. “I do my job the same way.”

More about Jenny

What superpower do you wish you had? I wish I could see into the future and know what lies ahead of me.

What is your actual superpower? I am a supermom. Working full-time and raising a family takes up most of my time. Juggling family functions while juggling everyday life takes a lot of preparing and organizing.

If you had a free day to do anything, how would you spend it? I would spend it with my kids and take them to each of their favorite places and eat lunch together at their favorite place.

What is your favorite snack? Ice cream with lots of chocolate and sprinkles

Why do you love your job? I love kids, and I love helping to make going to the dentist fun.

Favorite fluoride flavor? Mint

Favorite cartoon or animated movie? Beauty and the Beast

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 C

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