Q: What is Rumspringa?
A: Rumspringa means "running around" in the Pennsylvania German dialect. It is the time, beginning at about age 16, when youth socialize with their friends on weekends. Rumspringa ends with marriage. (For those who don't marry, Rumspringa ends in their mid to late twenties.) This period is an important time when Amish youth need to decide if they will be baptized and join the church or leave the Amish community.
(Everyone in this story is age nineteen or older)
My name is John and I have worked in my fathers brick yard ever since I was old enough to lift a brick. Our brick yard is in a county where about half the population is Amish, Mennonite, or an offspring of such lifestyles. I've lived here my whole live. I'm now twenty-four and a foreman in our yard.
I played sports in high school and later went to a technical school to get an Associate Degree in business. My Dad said it would help me in the brick business. I learned a lot including how to deal with the lifestyles and attitudes of those who worked for me.
It also taught me the common sense aspect of what it takes to run a business. After college I worked full time at the brick yard. My Dad made me a foreman but I still did a lot of lifting; you know, the grunt part of the job. I loved it! It kept me in shape and those that worked for me knew I wouldn't ask them to do anything that I wouldn't do myself.
Since I worked with my shirt off on very hot days I developed a great tan which showed off my abs. I have to say through the years it helped me with my dating. I was popular in both high school and college. There weren't very many weekends that I wasn't having sex with someone. My motto was work hard all week and enjoy the weekends.
I have been with a number of Amish women throughout the years. I usually went with them during Rumspringa. I'll try and explain it to you.
In many communities, Rumspringa is a period when some Amish youth experience greater freedom. They are no longer under the control of their parents on weekends and, because they are not baptized, they are not yet under the authority of the church. During this time, many Amish youth adhere to traditional Amish behavior. Others, however, experiment with "worldly" activities—buying a car, going to movies, wearing non-Amish clothes and/or buying a television or a DVD player.
In the larger Amish settlements, their behavior often depends on the peer group they choose to join. Amish parents worry about which group their son or daughter will join because the choice will influence the teen's behavior.
Some activities may include volleyball, swimming, ice skating, picnics, hiking, and large outdoor "supper" parties. The most typical gatherings are "singings." Groups meet in a home and sing German hymns and English gospel songs for several hours and then enjoy a time of conversation and food.
The "faster," more rebellious groups sometimes drive cars, rent a building for parties, or go to bars and nightclubs in nearby towns. A fling with worldliness reminds Amish youth that they have a choice regarding church membership. Knowing they have a choice likely strengthens their willingness to obey church standards and, in the long run, the authority of the church itself.
I would meet a number of these girls when they were going through Rumspringa. Groups of Amish would meet in town and change into "English" clothing and share tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. Girls may put on jewelry and cosmetics. They would often mingle with non-Amish in these excursions. I often met them in bars and they liked to dance and flirt which would often lead to sex and I was always there for them.
One day one of the men who worked for me asked me if I wanted to go to the beach that weekend. He said many of the people he knew were on Rumspringa and were going to make their decision whether to leave or to go back to their family groups. He mentioned his girlfriend Anna was one of them.
Eli was nineteen and so was Anna. He had a drivers license but rarely drove any vehicles outside of the brickyard. He came straight out and said he needed a driver to take him to the beach. He could drive but didn't have a vehicle and didn't want to go in a buggy. He and his buddy, Hugo, were going to spend the night at the beach. They were going to pitch a tent and hoped to get lucky.
I explained to him that I was twenty-four and had already sown my wild oats. I wasn't very interested in picking up women that were only eighteen or nineteen. Eli was a good worker and I felt a bit sorry for him. I think he was afraid his girlfriend might sow her oats with someone else while at the beach.
I finally agreed to take Eli and Hugo to the beach. I did like relaxing by the water and because of my tan and build, I did draw some attention from the opposite sex.
I have to admit the young women looked pretty good. Anna was surprised to see Eli but seemed very happy about it. Hugo met up with one of his old girlfriends also. Both guys were surprised to see their girlfriends in tight two piece bathing suits.
I tried to keep a little distance between my friends and me. I didn't want to interrupt them from doing their thing. Besides, there were a lot of women to look at and talk to.
I was surprised to see a good looking women walk up to Eli and Anna. She was a brunette, had on a one piece bathing suit but looked beautiful. She looked a few years older than the rest of the girls and I had to wonder who she was. She hugged Eli and he introduced her to Anna and they hugged. They talked for a few minutes and then she walked down the beach and joined some other people.
I wanted to know who this women was. She didn't seem Amish so I walked over to Eli. He introduced me to Anna and I got a big smile from her and kind of a look from Eli. I laughed and told Anna it was nice meeting her. I then asked Eli about the good looking older woman.
He told me it was his older sister, Mary. She went to high school and then to college to become a veterinarian. She recently moved back to the area to do an internship at one of the local clinics. He looked at me and said, "Forget it John, she doesn't date much. She spends most of her time finishing her degree and doing her internship."
I might mention here that Eli and Anna were Mennonites. The main distinguishing feature of Amish from the Mennonites is the Amish resistance to embracing modern technology. Amish make very little use of technology and generally maintain very little contact with the outside world, no more than necessary. They dress up in very traditional outfits and live in very small tight knit communities.
The Mennonites on the other hand dress up in plain clothes but generally would not be distinguishable from anyone else just by their clothing. They don't have any problems using technology nor do they maintain a separation from the outside world. Although practicing a plain and simple lifestyle they are much more moderate towards the use of modern technology and do not abstain from it.
A couple of Eli and Anna's friends (female) came up to me and said it looked like I needed suntan lotion put on me and I laughed as they started rubbing my back and chest putting on the lotion. I have to admit it felt good. Too bad they were younger since I wasn't interested in just having a fling anymore.
Some Amish guys the girls knew came walking by and asked if they would put some lotion on them also. They laughed and started rubbing the guys' chests. I think they knew that I was a bit old for them and just wanted to party with their friends.
I saw Mary walk up to the pavilion so I walked up to talk with her. When I said hi to her, she turned around and was even more beautiful close up.
"Hi," she said. "I need to tell you that I'm just here with friends. I see you were with some playmates yourself." She said it in a sarcastic way.
"Mary, I'm John. Your brother Eli works with me. I brought him and his friend Hugo to the beach to meet their girlfriends."
"So you're John, my brother really likes you. He says you're his boss. It's nice to meet you."
I looked down at her hand and didn't see a ring. "Since you're here with friends is it alright if I join you? Eli's friends are a bit young for me."
"Are you saying I'm old?" she laughed.
"God NO! I'm sorry if I said that wrong. It's just that I'm twenty-four and Eli and his friends are all around nineteen."
"I'm twenty-five," replied Mary. "My friends are all in their early twenties. You're welcome to join us if you like." I smiled at her and picked up the drinks she had ordered and walked to meet her friends.
"Damn! Mary, where did you find him?" asked one of her girlfriends. There were two women and two guys. The women had on skimpy two piece bikinis.
"Put your tongue back in your mouth Sheila. This is John, he's my brother Eli's boss. John, this is Sheila, Rachel, Tom and Edward." They all said hi but I wasn't sure if the guys cared for me. They had decent builds but not like my six-pack abs.
"So John, what brings you to the beach today?" asked Tom.
"I just brought Eli and his friend Hugo to meet their friends. I didn't have any plans this weekend and Eli is a good friend as well as an employee."
We all talked and went into the water. It was really fun being with people more my age. They wanted to do water fights and Sheila got on Tom's shoulders and Rachel got on Ed's. Mary wasn't quite sure if she wanted to do this but I went underwater and came up with her on my shoulders. She screamed out and her friends laughed.
.... There is more of this story ...