Vernon-born writer turns ‘bush boys’ story into podcast | infonews

Vernon-born writer Sam Mullins stands outside the Kalamalka General Store.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Lee Watkins

January 29, 2022 – 07:00

In the fall of 2003, two teenagers arrived in Vernon and claimed to have been raised in the deep wilderness of British Columbia with no contact with society.

The story of the “bush boys” became known after a local hockey mom decided to help them.

Now, nearly 20 years later, Vernon-born writer and comedian Sam Mullins has turned that remarkable story into an eight-episode podcast.

Chameleon: Wild Boys was released on January 25.

Mullins was a teenager when the “bush boys” landed in Vernon and ended up living behind Kalamalka’s general store in Coldstream.

But they didn’t stay behind the store long as the town rallied and they were given food, housing and money.

Local media picked up their story, then national, then international media covered it.

The story of the “bush boys” who had grown up deep in the wilderness of British Columbia was ubiquitous.

The problem was that none of this was true. They were two brothers from suburban California.

“The podcast is my journey to find them and get the untold story,” Mullins said.

Mullins was 15 and living a few hundred yards from the Kalamalka General Store when the boys arrived in Vernon.

“The reason they turned so many heads walking around town was because the youngest of the brothers was so skinny he looked literally on the verge of starvation,” Mullins said.

While the Toronto-based writer and performer admits he hadn’t given much thought to the story in 15 years, the pandemic has prompted him to look for alternative projects.

“It was this crazy story with a beginning, a middle and an end, and I was so curious to see what the lives of these kids were like,” Mullins said. “What was going on in the family (and) what was going on in their childhood that made something like this possible?

“No spoilers but I found them,” he said.

Mullins traveled to Nevada to see them and interview the boys and their family for the podcast.

So how did a pair of kids from suburban America end up in Vernon pretending to be nature?

Mullins won’t spoil the ending but says they challenged what he thought of them.

“After talking to them and their families at length, their actions not only make sense, but they make perfect sense,” he said. “I didn’t expect to understand them so clearly as people… They were much more thoughtful and measured than I thought.”

The Chameleon: Wild Boys podcast can be found here.

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