Hi @sophiec15 and welcome.

Congrats on your upcoming educational journey!

So, I have to agree 100% with @REI-JohnJ .  I have gotten quite a lot of my gear and clothing from the REI Good & Used site, and the Garage in my local REI store.  This includes backpacks (REI Traverse 35 & Osprey Atmos AG65),  a tent (REI Passage 1), boots (Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX), and numerous articles of clothing.  Both packs together cost me less than a new Traverse alone.  And I haven't been disappointed yet.  Maybe a little dirt, or imperfection in the fabric.  The worst thing I came across was a small tear on the sleeve of an Outdoor Research puffy that was cured by a piece of Gear Aid tape.

As to how to "properly camp", there is no one answer.  Camp your own camp.  Just as long as you follow the Leave No Trace rules, and aren't bothering the wildlife or other nearby campers, you can do your own thing.  For pointers, recommendations, and hacks, the REI Expert Advice section and this site will provide you a ton of information.  You need just ask.  

Good luck and enjoy!

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