Have You Heard Of The “Infamous” Amish Rumspringa?

By: Samantha Parker | Last updated: Aug 23, 2022

Rumspringa is a rite of passage for Amish youth beginning at the age 16. Rumspringa directly translates to “running around”. Amish teenagers experience more social freedoms to spend time with people their own age. Until adolescence, Amish youth are kept close to their parents and Rumpsringa represents a time when the teenageers are not entirely under the control of their parents or the church. This time of freedom is meant to be a time for adolescents to experience some of “the real world” before being baptized in the church. Portrayals in books and T.V. have created some misconceptions about what Rumspringa really is, so we’re here to set the record straight. Here are some fascinating facts about Rumspringa that might surprise you.

Rumpsinga is not typically a time of “partying”

In 1998, 2 Amish youth were busted for selling cocaine, and the press ran with the story, painting a view of Rumspringa to the public that is not necessarily accurate. Since the incident, the Amish have taken care to introduce anti-drug classes and parental involvement in youth groups. However, it impacted the portrayal of Rumspringa in film as well as in public perception of this practice.

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While some films have shown Rumspringa as being a time of sexual exploration, drug use, and partying, this is not the norm. Most often, Amish youth use the time to meet more people their age and decide whether they want to devote themselves to the church.

Amish parents do not encourage their kids to partake in sinful behavior

A common misconception about Rumspringa is that parents of Amish youth encourage their kids to participate in degenerate behaviors, but this is wholly untrue. Parents give their children more social freedoms when they turn 16 so that they can choose to join the Amish church or not.

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They disapprove of bad behaviors and do not condone illegal behaviors, but want their children to make the right choices themselves. They encourage their kids to spend time with their peers and make the decision to devote themselves to the church. Amish children are not considered members of the church until they decide to join in adolescence.

Rumspringa youth groups often determine behaviors

Amish teens join youth groups to spend time with their peers on the weekends . There are “fast” and “slow” youth groups. Slower groups will join church singing groups, play games, and perform other activities together.

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Faster groups are less conservative and abide by less rules. Members of the fast youth group might attend parties, rent cars, go to bars, etc. Volleyball, swimming, and dinner parties are some of the more common activities for Amish adolescents to participate in. Contrary to popular belief, more often than not, Amish youth abide by the rules during Rumspringa.

Some Amish groups reject Rumspringa

Some New Order Amish groups and Amish subgroups actually reject the practice of Rumspringa. Newer and smaller groups believe this is an outdated practice that encourages teens to leave the church.

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They hope that the majority of their kids will choose to join the church and be baptized, so they continue to supervise the adolescents throughout their teens years.