A great way to get some photography experience, as well as getting out of the house, is to volunteer as a photographer to cover events, functions and conventions. It is simply amazing how many of these groups rely on whomever has a camera or on people in attendance covering the events. No matter the size of your town, there are always things going on that could use someone to capture the event.
What do you need? Some of the bigger events like film festivals and conventions require a minimum of a digital SLR with at least 10 mega pixels and a flash. Smaller places like art shows, parades, town meetings, etc. won’t necessarily need more than a 3-5 mega pixels and a point and shoot will work just fine. Make sure you check with them ahead of time to make sure you have what they need. This is often covered on the website.