Welcome to the community and to the co-op!
You're in a great part of the country to get outside, we have a few folks on here from Tennessee, we encourage you to take a look at the Tennessee board and join the conversations happening there. In regards to your quest for tips and tricks for getting into camping and the outdoors on a budget, we encourage you to take a look at our Used Gear website, or plan a visit to your local REI store during one of their garage sales or to check out their rental offerings.
While it can be expensive, quality outdoor gear can last you many years. You'll find lots of folks here in the community with great advice on what has worked for them in the past!
Hopefully this helps!