4-H club has a stompin’ good time

Published 1:37 pm Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cherie McMurray, front left, and Lindsey Austin, front right, lead the Shelby Stompers in the Cha-Cha. (Contributed)

By MOLLIE BROWN / Community Columnist

The 4-H youth organization was once associated with summer camps and fairs, but clubs today focus on diverse activities to fulfill its mission of “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth.” The Shelby Stompers is one of those clubs.

Cherie McMurray and daughter Lindsey Austin started the non-traditional club three years ago.

“We’re a community club because we don’t meet at a school and we meet in the evening so kids from all schools can come,” McMurray said. “We’re a specialty club because we have one type of event, line dancing.”

McMurray has been line dancing for 30 years. She started her first club in Florida when her now grown children were active in 4-H. She encourages parents to dance alongside their children, while other family members watch or play with toys.

McMurray said kids can learn a lot about dancing, rhythm and music genre in a laid back, fun atmosphere.

“We don’t have an end-of-year recital and things aren’t real precise. In fact, you’ll hear me tell the kids they can improvise movements. I tell them if you get a whim, try it and if it doesn’t work out just don’t do it the next time.”

McMurray asks for volunteers to re-teach lessons. Club president Rebekah Smith led the class in the Single Two-Step. They also danced the Cha-Cha, Ghost Train and Billy’s Dance.

Mid-way through class, they stopped to recite the Pledge of Alliance and 4-H pledge, then each shared their favorite memory of a 4-H event. Kristen Smith, Rebekah’s mom, spoke of McMurray’s patience and laughed as she said, “I was really bad at this in the beginning.” Smith said it’s a wonderful opportunity for her to spend time with her daughter.

Bret and Sherry Stiefel’s daughters, Ashley and Lily, joined the club two years ago.

“Our girls love to dance,” Sherry said. “We home school, so this is a great source for physical education.

Shelby Stompers meet in Calera at Seven Springs Church on Mondays from 6:30-8 p.m. The club is active year ‘round and open to youth ages 5-18. Contact McMurray at 205-601-4747 for more information.

Mollie Brown can be reached at dmjhb1@bellsouth.net.