Podcast Review: Chameleon - Wild Boys

Style: Documentary

Average Episode Length: 40 mins

If you love a good con-themed podcasts, Chameleon (from Campside Media) is the podcast for you. The latest season of the podcast, called Wild Boys, takes place in the summer of 2003 when two half-starved teens turned up in a small Canadian town telling quite the story of how they ended up there. They claimed they’d been raised in the wilderness and this was their first-ever contact with society - they didn’t have IDs, never browsed the internet, or even gone to school. The community took them in - providing food, shelter, and even credit cards. It wasn’t long before the media got word of this bazaar situation and descended on the town. There was just one big problem - not a word of what the boys said was true. Over the course of this podcast, the host, Sam Mullins, uncovers the true story of the “Bush Boys” (that’s what the townie’s called them) who turned his little town upside-down.

In the first several episodes, Mullins does an excellent job of painting the picture of what life was like in the small town of Vernon. As I was listening, he had me reminiscing about life in 2003. I was in high school and one of the most popular new TV shows was The OC. I can’t say I miss the days of popped collars and frosted tips. Mullins makes some funny comparisons between The OC and the coastal town of Vernon. One of my favorite things about this podcast is how Mullins sets the stage. He carefully weaves in commentary from locals who share memories from the time the “Bush Boys” lived in Vernon. I found myself empathizing with every “character”. Mullins was able to get each interviewees to open up in a personal and insightful way. The pacing of this podcast was also excellent. Especially for a show where you already kind of know the twist - the boys are lying about everything. I still felt compelled to listen to each episode with intense curiosity. That’s what good storytelling will do to you.

Surprisingly, the character I found most interesting in the podcast was not either of the boys, it was a person named Tami. Tami acted as a mother figure of sorts to the boys when they arrived in Vernon. You’ll learn all about her in episode 1 of the podcast so I won’t spoil it for you here. Suffice to say that Tami is a saint. I’m glad that people like Tami exist in this world. In some ways, the first several episodes of this podcast was a meditation on our own humanity. Tami made me think about what I would have done if I were in her shoes. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I could have (or would have) done what Tami did for those boys, but she inspired me re-examine how I would show up for a complete stranger (or strangers in Tami’s case).

Overall, I found Wild Boys to be really well researched. You can tell the Mullins deeply cares about the people involved in this story. I think it’s impossible not to binge it which is why I'm recommending it! You can listen now wherever you get your podcasts.

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