Rumspringa ( Pennsylvania Dutch expression usually translated as ‘’running around’’) is literally a crossroad for young Amish people. It’s the time during which Amish youth decides To Be Or Not To Be The Amish.
Rumspringa is the period during which Amish children older than 16 years of age experience greater freedom. They don’t have to stick to the strict rules anymore, they are allowed to experiment with non- Amish things and activities like wearing mainstream American teen clothes, watching television, using mobile phones, smoking, drinking, dancing, having driving lessons, going to the movies, having a lot of parties.
What Happens During Rumspringa?
During Rumspringa, young Amish ( 16+) are allowed to explore the world outside the Amish community, to experiment with the English way of living.
A young Amish will find him/herself at the real crossroads during Rumspringa. He/she is old enough not to be under the control of the parents like younger children but since he/she is not baptized at that moment, the young Amish is not yet under the control of the church.
So if there will be any period of life during which the Amish can feel almost absolute freedom – the Rumspring is the one.
Since the Amish community doesn’t force anyone to stay its member, the young Amish has the right to choose whether he/she will continue with his/her life elsewhere outside the Amish community or will accept to be baptized in the Amish church and to live under the Amish rules.
Rumspringa is the time during which the young Amish will make this decision.
Where Do Young Amish Live During Rumspringa?
Where the Rumspring-age Amish will live depends on many things. They can live ( and most of them do) in their parent’s house or they can move to non- Amish community to experience totally different way of living.
How Long Do Amish Go On Rumspringa?
The Rumspringa period may last from several months to two years. This intense and interesting phase of every young Amish life ends by baptism in the Amish church or by leaving the Amish community for good.
Some Amish will feel the pressure to end the Rumspring period while others won’t, even though their parents won’t be happy with their actions and behavior. However, the young Amish is the one who will decide when is the Rumsprings ends. Of course, this crazy period of youth cannot last forever!
Do All Amish Communities Have Rumspringa?
Not all Amish communities practice the Rumspringa the same way. The larger and older Amish settlements like La Grange, Indiana, Holmes, Ohio or Lancaster county, Pennsylvania are known for wild and rebellious experiences while others won’t give their youth that kind of freedom.
In some Amish communities, the young people are allowed to try and experience otherwise forbidden things but they remain under close parent’s supervision.
In some smaller and New Order Amish communities, young people might be in the Rumspring period due to the age and the fact that they are not baptized yet but won’t be allowed to do anything crazy, different, or forbidden.
Boys are more numerous than girls when it comes to exploring the outer world.
Why Do Most Amish Return After Rumspringa?
The statistic shows that , about 80 percent of Amish youth eventually join the church.
The reason for such a high percentage lies in the fact that it’s not that easy to find your own way in the world, moreover if you grew up as an Amish.
It’s a rather high-stake decision. If the young Amish decides to leave the community, he/she will be allowed to keep contact with the family but the truth is that he/she will live somwhere alone without family support he/she is used to.
It’s not an easy thing for an Amish kid who was growing up surrounded by parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors always ready to help.
In some cases, the parents will be rather disappointed with the choice of their son/daughter and won’t allow an ex Amish to visit them too often in order to avoid the ‘bad influence on younger siblings.
Taking all this into account, for the Amish kid is much better to join the church and get back the life he /she knows the best. Why is that? First of all, the Amish people are poorly educated, they only go to shool until they finish 8th grade so it would be very hard for them to find a proper job and to make a living.
Secondly, they don’t know much about the modern world, even the basic things like opening a bank account or usage of some electronic devices represent a serious problem for them.
Third, they are used to live in the community, surrounded by family and very friendly-oriented neighbors.
Living in a strange, modern world, far from anyone familiar can be a great challenge for a young Amish. It’s almost impossible for them to adapt to the world outside their farm.
What Happens To Those That Never Return After Rumspringa?
The young Amish are allowed to choose how they will end the Rumspringa period, whether they will be baptized in the church or they will leave the Amish community.
If they decide to leave, they will have to continue with their lives without their family. However, the family ties will still be alive, nothing will be the same anymore.
There is a great difference if the Amish leave the community before or after he/she is baptized. If the young Amish decide to join the church after Rumspringa but sometime after that, he/she decides to leave the community, this person will be shunned.
That’s a rather cruel and hard process. The shunned person becomes persona non grata in the community and other members of the church are not allowed to keep the contact with him/her because this person now lives in the sin.
However, in some Amish communities, it will be possible for a shunned person to rejoin the community and the church again but this is another topic.