Students will:

  • Learn about Medal of Honor Recipient Gary Beikirch
  • Identify ways they can be courageous by living outside of their comfort zones

Three 60-minute Sessions

“Life will not become significant until you learn to live outside your comfort zone.”
– Gary Beikirch, United States Army, Medal of Honor Recipient

Medal of Honor Focus: Gary Beikirch 
Materials Needed:

  • “Inside my Comfort Zone,” “Just Outside my Comfort Zone,” “Outside my Comfort Zone,” and “REALLY Outside my Comfort Zone” signs, posted around the room
  • Copies of Gary Beikirch’s Portrait of Valor for each student
  • Student journals

Introductory Activity:

Before the students arrive, create “zones” around the classroom, labeling them “Inside my Comfort Zone,” “Just Outside my Comfort Zone,” “Outside my Comfort Zone,” and “REALLY Outside my Comfort Zone.”

Once students have arrived, write the words “Comfort Zone” on the board. Ask students what the term means to them. Explain that you will offer a list of topics, and while you read them, students will move from zone to zone depending on their feelings about each topic you read.

Read the following list and have students move around the room to the appropriate zone:

Singing a solo
Changing a diaper
Sky diving
Going camping
Moving to a new town
SCUBA diving
Getting blood taken
Living without the Internet or TV for a week

When the list is complete, have them return to their seats.

Individual Activity:
Pass out copies of Gary Beikirch’s Portrait of Valor. Ask the students to read his story and think about the times he was pushed outside of his comfort zone.

Whole Group Activity:
When the students have finished reading Gary Beikirch’s story, lead a discussion about the times he was pushed past the boundaries of his comfort zone.

  • What experiences in the story were probably outside of Gary Beikirch’s comfort zone?
  • How do you think he felt when he lived in a jungle where there were tigers, experienced war, was under attack, lived in a cave, went to the White House, etc.?
  • How do you think he had the courage to do those things?
  • How did the things he did help others?

Concluding Activity:
Read aloud or write on the board the following statement Gary Beikirch made in an interview:

“It’s being willing to take a risk to do something for somebody else. That might mean when you see somebody in the hall who is being bullied, it might mean stepping in and saying ‘Hey, cut this out!’ and that’s going to put you out of your comfort zone, and life will not become significant until you start to live outside your comfort zone.”

Ask students to write a journal entry about how they would define significance and how they can push the boundaries of their own comfort zones to help other people.

Class participation, journal reflection