I've had TONS of fun teaching photography classes lately, and aside from learning what things tend to typically keep people from learning more, one thing that I'm being asked A LOT, is what kind of camera is a good starter camera. So I've compiled my thoughts on the subject below.
Disclaimer: there are LOTS of options out there, and so I choose to only speak to those options that I'm familiar with. Does that mean that there no other suitable options? Not at all. But I'm attempting to keep it simple and these are cameras that I have personal experience with, and so can feel comfortable recommending.
DIGITAL VS. FILM
If you are just starting out with photography, my personal recommendation is to start with digital. Because being able to see what you're doing immediately, allows you to make corrections immediately and see the results immediately, which makes learning easier and faster. If you're die hard for film, email me and I'll send you my film camera recommendations.
NIKON VS. CANON
I personally shoot with Nikon (Nikon D4s and Nikon D700 for digital, Nikon F5 for 35mm film, along with Contax and Pentax for Medium Format film). My dad shot with Nikon, and he got me my first good film camera when I was 16 which was a Nikon, and I built my arsenal from there. Is Nikon better than Canon? No. It's just how I started and once you're in, switching over can be... well... expensive. What I've noticed is that Canon seems to offer faster lenses that are more affordable than Nikon lenses, so if you plan on being a lens junky... that might be something to consider. But I've never felt the need to switch from Nikon, and if Nikon ever releases a medium format camera (there are rumors)... I might indulge.
NEW VS. USED
As much as getting one of those brand, new, starter kits at Costco or Target seems to make the best sense, I have to say that if you really want to learn, you're going to be frustrated by the lenses that come with those kits. They are very limiting. So although it seems like a great deal, to me it seems like a great way to sell crap lenses to people who don't know better. Save yourself the time and frustration, and go to Ebay and get yourself whatever camera body you were looking at in that kit, and get the body only. And then find a 50mm f1.8 prime lens or thereabouts. You can likely get both the camera body and lens for around $300, and that will have you in a much better place to get photos that you love than any kit their selling right now. It will also help you to learn because you're able to change the f-stop on that lens to see, first hand, the affects of aperture (depth of field).
Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR Body
With either of these set ups, you'll be ready to learn and excel at photography, and the best thing is even once you grow out of that camera body, that lens will stay with you. It's one of the most affordable lenses (in either Nikon or Canon's lineup) and it's still one of my favorites. I never go to a wedding or shoot without it.
If you're interested in learning more about photography, I do offer classes. Check out my Classes / Events page on my website to see upcoming classes and offerings!