In The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald Kraybill explains Amish ‘gangs’ in Lancaster county:

By the age of ten, an Amish child will be able to name some of the groups—Bluebirds, Canaries, Pine Cones, Drifters, Shotguns, Rockys, and Quakers—and even describe some of their activities.

Youth are free to join the gang of their choice…Parents worry about which groups their teens will join because they know that one group may invite temptation, whereas another will reinforce parental teaching.

Gangs are an important outlet for Amish youth going through the formative period known as Rumspringa. Most are fairly tame. Some do get wild.

Unfortunately for the Amish, the media jumps all over any story of Amish low-brow behavior– hence the popularity of some recent televisions shows and documentaries on Rumspringa-age adolescents.

Gang activities let youth socialize, test the waters of the world, and engage in some (usually harmless) rebellious behavior.

I remember passing a regular-looking Amish buggy one Saturday evening.

Everything seemed normal about this particular buggy, except for the heavy thump of a bass line coming from the on-board stereo system.

Did these youth go too far?  It’s probably fair to say that it’s all relative. Some churches might look the other way, others might not.

But for the sake of rebellion, there are probably worse things a teenage gang member could get into.

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