Crocheting, knitting, exercise, and art are among the activities seniors can still choose to participate in on the Orangeburg County Council on Aging as pandemic restrictions have begun to ease.
Colombian artist Campbell Frost commutes to and from the capital to teach art classes, which he says are more like a family affair.
Classes are held every Thursday, with advanced classes from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and beginners classes from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the OCCA facility located at 2570 St Matthews Road NE in Orangeburg.
“It’s a worthwhile project. I’ve been here a long, long time. Some students have won ribbons at art shows. It’s more than a class, it’s a family. We we get together and sometimes we go on field trips and go to art shows,” Frost said.
Classes are $10 each.
Frost said he’s watched his students grow and develop over the years, including former Elloree Mayor Stan Busch, whose late mother and twin brother also took the art classes.
“It taught me enough to keep coming over the last 10 to 12 years. People don’t understand it’s available here in Orangeburg, and they should really take advantage of it,” said the Elloree resident, 78 years old.
He is particularly proud of his oil painting titled “School of Yellow Tang”, which features a vibrant school of bright yellow saltwater fish that is one of the most popular for marine aquariums.
“I was pretty much a beginner when I started, but now I like what I’m doing now. So I’ll keep coming. Of course, we have a good group here. We all have fun criticizing each other. each other and just learning the art,” Busch said.
“Art is a progressive thing. A lot of people say, ‘I can’t draw a stick figure,’ but you don’t know what you can do until you start doing it. You have to learn. Like anything else, you have to take it in phases,” Busch said.
He continued: “There is no age limit. I am 78 and I love doing it. We have one here who is 95. We have others who are not so old, but you are never too young to learn.”
Frost said the work of course participants has been exhibited at the Orangeburg County Center for Fine Arts.
Art classes are a great way to spend a Thursday, he said.
“I’m from Columbia, but I love coming here. Stan is from Elloree. A lady is from Summerville. They enjoy that. Orangeburg is almost like a hangout. We meet in Orangeburg and do a lot of painting and help each other and working with each other. We draw our strength from being together,” said the OCCOA Artist-in-Residence.
OCCOA deputy director Betty Void said art and other classes help socialize older people.
“They wanted to get out of the house again and come back to the center because they enjoy and continue to enjoy socializing,” Void said, noting that the center has been open to serve seniors in person since July 2021.
Referring to the art classes, Void said, “Some come and stay all day, and some just come for the beginner class or just for the morning. I would say on a good day we might have some 12 for the whole day.”
Watercolor and oil are among the painting techniques taught in the course.
Exercise classes with fitness instructor Gypsy Wolf are held from 9:15 am to 10:15 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The fitness room is actually open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and is free for people aged 55 and over.
Dining hall activities include devotional, BINGO and lunch Monday through Thursday.
OCCOA Executive Director Dee Ann Miller said: ‘We are happy that everything is back to normal and activities are back for seniors.
For more information about OCCOA and its activities, call the facility, which is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at 803-531-4663.