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From my experience and the experience of finding uniforms for boys, the sizes run pretty much true to "regular store" sizes. Of course the store sizes are often widely different as well.
When it comes to pants, the inseam and waist sizes are pretty accurate. Inseam on older pants was a moot point because they were not hemmed at the cuff. Some of the older scout pants had elastic waistbands and worked pretty well for growing boys as they bulked up. The switchback pants have a finished cuff so you will need to adhere to the inseam measurement.
I would say that if you are starting out, go for sizes that are too big and expect over the next 7 years the size of your boy WILL get larger. To-date, I have never seen where adage this doesn't hold true. When I was starting high school I was 5' 11" tall, 98 pounds. At the end of my sophomore year, I was 6' 135 pounds. My mother would take things back to the store and complain that they had shrunk in the wash.
I have purchased on-line from both BSA and such places as E-Bay where the people merely read labels. I haven't had any problem with sizes being "off".
I've worn pants the past 20 years, that I hemmed up. No one has ever commented on how bad it looks. And if you use badge magic or iron-on basting tape, well, it will never show seeing how it's glued on the inside of the pant leg. I also used regular thread instead of gold thread to keep the cost down. If you really want to do it the scouting way, use duct tape. If you are planning on never selling them and you don't intend to grow anymore, cut the leg 1" longer than you want, fold 1/2" over and sew with a sewing machine. Looks passable. You aren't going for a fashion statement here. No one in the woods really worries too much how it looks.