by Steve Rhodes
Question by Goerge: Could you describe what RumSpringer means to you?
More specifically can you describe what RumSpringer means to you. I would also like to know if you have direct experience with the Amish faith and if the local community has a looser stance in relation to a 16 year old that is going through this process. I am not at all familiar with the Amish people. I was watching a documentary concerning several teens that were going through this period in their lives. Some of the parties that took place that did not come under public scrutiny involved a LOT of alcohol. It is not only the legal side I am interested in I am wondering if the basic concept of this practice seems to be a get out of jail free card, so to speak, that seems to encourage sin on many levels in order to I guess purge a person by allowing them to get that out of their system. SO in a nutshell. Does RumSpringer encourage “bad” behavior and do you think that it is a healthy practice within such a relatively strict religion when the shunning practice as well as other facets are taken into account.
Answer by Bill B
Good day to you, sir.
I live about 15 miles east of Lancaster County, PA, which has a HUGE Amish community and am fairly familiar with their customs.
Rumspringer (Rumspringa) comes from the Pennsylvania German and literally translated means “running around” but many refer to the entire adolescent period as rumspringa.
The Amish are Anabaptists and believe in the adult baptism of their members. Once you have chosen to be baptized, you are held to a higher standard than pre-baptism.
The youth are given the opportunity to experience the “English” world to decide if they want to remain Amish or separate themselves from the community. While outrageous behavior is not “encouraged” during this time, youth are given kind of a free “pass” to experiment and many are not penalized for this behavior as it is pre-baptism. Parents of the youth may choose not to punish “bad” behavior but since the parents are under the rules of the community, they have an “obligation” to make sure their children are not wild. The percentage of Amish youth who actually drink, do drugs, engage in sexual activity, etc. is a small minority.
The vast majority of teens choose to remain Amish and do not leave following their rumspringa.
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