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The latest season of the wildly popular con-themed podcast Chameleon takes place in the summer of 2003 when two half-starved young men turned up in a small Canadian town telling an incredible story.

They’d been raised in the British Columbia wilderness, and this was their first-ever contact with society — they’d never seen a TV, gone to school, or registered for IDs. So the community took them in and set about introducing them to the modern world.

Before long, the international media descended on the town, enthralled by the mysterious “Bush Boys.” There was just one problem: not a word the boys said was true. Nearly 20 years later, award-winning comedian and journalist Sam Mullins uncovers the bizarre true story of the strangers who turned his hometown upside-down.

Campside Media

Part of the draw of this story is the fact that the journalist, Sam Mullins, who delves into it grew up in the small town of ‘Vernon’ in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia. He describes the place and people with a familiarity that plays personal tribute to the character and warmth of a community, and which also conveys a real sense of place. I’ve never been there, but I feel as if I have. His community embraced two boys who seemed to materialise out of the inhospitable wilderness with an extraordinary story, and their need for help was obvious due to their emaciated state. This falls in to the ‘True Crime’ genre because it is a scam. But it’s more than that: its a life story that extends from the journalist to the boys to the individual members of the community who came into contact with them. I found myself trying to imagine how I would have reacted given the same set of circumstances, and in that way ‘the ‘Wild Boys’ becomes a story largely about kindness and trust and how to respond to these qualities.