Staying in an Amish home can be a memorable experience
Outsiders often express the desire to visit and even stay with the Amish, to experience Amish life firsthand. Some are motivated by sheer curiosity, or an admiration for the Amish lifestyle. Others may even come to this request out of a desire to explore the lifestyle for the purpose of joining. Such individuals are often referred to as “seekers”.
While some seekers do eventually join the Amish, this is typically quite rare. It is difficult both to join successfully, and to remain Amish if one does join. Challenges can stem from adapting to the lifestyle—if one does not grow up in the culture, the Amish themselves often say, it can be very difficult to adopt.
That said, some may wish to experience living with an Amish family firsthand. While not impossible to stay with an Amish family, it helps to have some connections in the community. Due to the sheer number of requests we receive, we are unable to connect individuals with Amish families. That said, there are a few steps one can take.
Why do you want to stay with an Amish family?
It’s worth asking, why do you want to stay with an Amish family? If it is to get a better experience of Amish life—rather than through traditional tourist activities—there may be other alternatives.
Some Amish do serve meals in their homes, which gives one both the chance to visit the interior of an authentic Amish home, eat a delicious meal, and converse with the owners. Some Amish even offer the possibility of overnight homestays. There are such home businesses run by Amish in Lancaster County, Arthur, Illinois, and in other communities. A first step is to contact the tourist bureau in the area you are interested in visiting.
Form a relationship with an Amish person
The best way to visit an Amish home, of course, is to visit as a friend. Becoming friends with an Amish person or family is of course easier to do in person. At the risk of stating the obvious, Amish are people too, are often interested in how people from beyond their communities live, and enjoy many of the same subjects the rest of us do.
Striking up a conversation when visiting an Amish business or while at an auction or other event where Amish are present may be a way to do just that. Forming and developing relationships takes some work and an honest heart but the rules are generally the same as with any other people.
Remember however that Amish value modesty in dress, appreciate family and community, are church-going and live by the dictates of the Bible. This does not mean that Amish are particularly stuffy, however, and appreciate a good joke and warm companionship as much as anyone else.
Having formed an authentic relationship, it’s possible you may receive an invitation to visit. It’s certainly not unheard of as Amish much enjoy visiting, both with Amish and non-Amish friends, and it is a primary social activity in Amish culture.
Learn more about the Amish
Spending some time reading non-fiction books and learning more about Amish culture can also help you when trying to understand and relate to Amish.
There are numerous resources available by which to learn more about the Amish. Here is an Amish reading list of worthwhile books on Amish society and faith. Also, read the Amish America blog and try subscribing by RSS or email to keep up to date with new posts.