Buy good glass. Buy good glass. Buy fast glass. Buy fast glass.
I have been shooting for about 30 some odd years now. Good glass is everything. I started on my fathers Pentax and then got a Canon A-1 for graduation. After that I went to Nikon. First an FM then an FM2 then an N-90. Then I also got an Olympus 5060 for point and shoot digital. My first foray into the dark side of photrography. I just bought the new Nikon D-90 last fall. Nice.
So may buttons so little time. And this my friends is the problem with digital. For most people they say " we'll fix it in photoshop".
Learn how to shoot with good photographic discipline. When my friends look at my digital photography they say they don't have to do hardly anything with these. I learned how to shoot with film. I have read years of magazines, read many books and listened to many lectures of the big pros. I mean the big pros. I have whittled all this down to the stuff that make sense to use as reference for other people.
Don't waste your time on fixed focal length lenses unless they are a steel. All my lenses except for two are f2.8 lenses. Most are zooms. No three. My big lense is a 500f4P. That is not an f2.8 aperture.
Learn to shoot.
Remember the only thing the sensor (film) sees is the glass. The rest keeps the dust out and stays dark inside.
Maybe another class for the club. That would be fun. I've done that for the scouts before.