Some of the best-known Amish beliefs center around their aversion to modern electronics and the group's dependence on agriculture in order to sustain their lifestyle. But one of the biggest mysteries of the Amish faith is rumspringa, an Amish coming-of-age ritual where teenagers leave their farm to explore the outside world, all while deciding whether or not they want to stay in the Amish community. If the Amish teens don’t return to their families, they have to leave the farm and find their own way in the world, but if they decide to stick with the Amish faith, they have to deny all worldly pleasures and give themselves over to God.
What do Amish teenagers actually do when they leave their families in order to find themselves amongst the riff-raff of middle America? Do Amish teens cast off their dorky clothes in favor of jeans and T-shirts, drive cars, and drink a lot of beer, or...? Read along, and explore the truth behind rumspringa.
How Long Does Rumspringa Last?
If the latter is true, that means it's possible for rumspringa to act as a kind of endless summer for some members of the Amish community.
Ain't No Party Like A Rumspringa Party
Throughout Amish country, rumspringa parties are notoriously crazy. According to a report from CBS, these parties can draw hundreds of teens.
Police in LaGrange County, IN, arrested 40 teens over one weekend in January 2020 in relation to rumspringa parties. According to Chief Deputy Tracy Harker, "We have several of these kids, some of them are barely 15, 16 years old and they're out experimenting with alcohol and drugs."
When Does Rumspringa Happen?
While the easiest rumspringa comparison is spring break, there isn't actually a specific time of year when Amish teens let down their bonnets.
Most Amish teens begin their rumpsringa at 16 years old, giving them enough life experience to function somewhat normally in society, while also providing enough time for them to lead a full life as a member of the community.
Social Media Means A Crazier Rumspringa
Believe it or not, even the Amish have moved into the 21st century. Thanks to Facebook and smartphones, teens are able to put together crazy rumspringa parties with a few keystrokes.
They aren't just using social media to put together gnarly Amish hangs; the kids are also posting pictures of themselves partying and wearing "English," or worldly, clothes.