It's easy to go overboard buying camping gear. There's a lot of great stuff out there and the prices can be pretty expensive. Remember beginning (and young) campers can be pretty rough on equipment so you want to buy things with an eye for value and durability. You can also buy items gradually over time to reduce sticker shock. Sure a $25 mess kit that packs into itself is nice but a plain plastic plate and bowl work just as well for car camping--and you don't have to worry about losing it.