Destination PA: The Amish Experience

Destination PA

BIRD-IN-HAND, Pa. (WHTM) — There are many places to take a horse and buggy ride in Lancaster County. But one tour company gives you an up-close look at the way of life for the Amish in Central Pennsylvania.

The Amish Experience gives you exactly what’s in its name.

“We like to really show who the Amish are,” said Clinton Martin, the president of The Amish Experience.

The company shuttles people to various working Amish farms for an up-close look at day-to-day life.

In the theater, you learn about things you can’t see today, like history.

“We talk about the Amish voyage and how the Amish came across and settled here,” said Martin.

The Amish Experience also brings you through a re-created one-room school.

“One teacher is going to teach maybe 30 scholars,” said Martin. “They call them scholars.”

Students from the first to the eighth grade are all in the same classroom. The desks are smaller for first graders in the front of the room, and as the kids grow older, they move back to the larger desks.

“They will go on and continue with what they call vocational training, after eighth grade,” said Martin.

Also on site at The Amish Experience is a replica of an Amish house.

What could look like a trip back in time is actually updated to current standards for Amish families.

Some types of new tools, toys or upgrades the Amish want need to be approved by local leaders.

“Whatever they think they want to change, they have to get permission from the bishop of the church district,” said Jeff Holliday, a tour guide at The Amish Experience.

The air conditioner keeping you cool and the lights making sure you can see are the only things here that aren’t authentic.

“While we’re in here, we talk about the boys and the men’s clothing because they don’t change,” said Holliday.

Still, some of what you spot might surprise you: Running water? Yes. Commercial electricity? No. Battery operated electricity? Yes.

“Which is generated from solar panels generally on the roof of the Amish house,” said Holliday.

Many ask: why is one type of electricity okay but not another?

“They don’t want to be tied into the rest of us like a lot of cases,” said Holliday.

Not all Amish communities follow the same rules.

But, it’s a way of life that The Amish Experience educates tens of thousands of visitors on each year.

“We don’t necessarily try to convert anyone or try to convince them that the Amish way of life is the best. We just want them to understand who the amish are,” said Martin.

Prices for the different options available at The Amish Experience vary.

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