If you don't own a tent or sleeping bags yet, now is a great time to visit sites such as Craigslist or Freecycle and check the listings, or even post one of your own if you have extra camping equipment that you don't need. Garage sales and thrift stores are other good choices to check out for what you need at a good price, too. At our local Goodwill, we saw a Coleman sleeping bag for just $5, and it looked brand new! Just keep your eyes open - it may take a couple of trips to several stores to find what you need, or a week or two of patience on Craigslist, but you'll snag what you need.
If funds are super tight, one of my FAVORITE stores, REI, is participating in the Great American Backyard Campout via several of their locations. They often have camping equipment available for rental if you join in at their location. If you've never been camping before, this is a GREAT way to learn a few things - setting up a tent isn't always as easy as it looks - and the folks there will explain to you more about things you should have along with you, how to start a fire and cook in a dutch oven, and so much more. I've taken some of their classes myself before, and most of their instructors really know what they are talking about - they are not there to sell you things. (Many of their classes are free, such as Family Camping Basics)
Need some tips? Check out some of my past camping articles:
Getting Ready To Base Camp, For Beginners
Tips For Camping & Hiking With Kids
Best Tips for Teaching Your Kids to Enjoy Hiking
I hope you'll join my family and I on June 23rd, pitch a tent, make some S'mores, and have a blast!