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Former Coldstream resident’s hit podcast dives into story of Vernon’s Bush Boys

The Bush Boys arrived in Vernon in 2003, claiming they were raised in the woods, and took the community by storm
Sam Mullins’ podcast, Chameleon: Wild Boys, tells the true story of when two boys appeared in Vernon in 2003, claiming to have been raised in the woods in isolation. Released on Jan. 25, 2022, the podcast has reached the top of the charts in Canada. (Lee Watkins photo)

They were the talk of the town when they stumbled out of the woods and captured the attention and concern of the Vernon community in 2003.

And now, nearly 20 years later, the story of the Bush Boys can be heard in detail thanks to a former Coldstream resident’s first venture into podcasting.

Writer and comedian Sam Mullins has turned the captivating story of Tom and Will Green, known as the Bush Boys, into an eight-episode podcast called Chameleon: Wild Boys, which debuted Jan. 25.

Mullins was 15 years old and living in Coldstream when the boys arrived in town, rail thin and claiming they’d been raised deep in the wilderness with no contact with society. They were living in a tent behind the Kalamalka General Store in Coldstream and as their story unfolded, they quickly made local, national and international headlines.

“I remember, like everyone who saw them, they drew my attention,” Mullins recalled. “The younger one, he was just so gaunt and horrifyingly thin, he looked like he was about to die of starvation.”

More than their appearance, there was simply something odd about the boys.

“They kind of had an altogether different vibe than people would know,” Mullins said. “They could be standing in a Usual Suspects lineup and everyone would be like, what’s up with those two guys?”

The boys were taken under the wing of a local hockey mom with a knack for helping others, and the city rallied around them, offering food, money and a roof over their heads.

“The story really tested the fabric of the town. It’s like an instructive tale about the fabric of Vernon, the mettle of Vernon, like who we really are,” Mullins said.

However, the truth eventually came out: far from being raised in the woods, the two brothers had run away from their home in suburban Sacramento.

Mullins managed to track down the Bush Boys and their family for the podcast, and the back half of the series is him diving into their first-hand account of the story.

“It was really great to talk to them. They were very generous with their time and all of them were very thoughtful people to talk to, and I just learned so much.”

Mullins, who currently lives in Toronto with his wife who is also from Vernon, is new to podcasting but he isn’t new to making content for the airwaves. He’s been on the hit program This American Life, has contributed stories for CBC’s The Doc Project and was a staff writer for a sketch comedy show on CBC Radio called The Irrelevant Show, among other radio gigs.

The success of the podcast so far has been overwhelming. Chameleon: Wild Boys was the number one podcast in Canada on Feb. 3. Even more surprisingly, it’s also reached the number one spot in New Zealand.

“As a creator it’s just the biggest thrill imaginable,” Mullins said.

Chameleon: Wild Boys can be listened to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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