English is the second language of campings throughout Europe, and most managers will understand the monoglot American.
Services: There's usually space to pitch a tent or park a camper van, motorhome, or trailer (caravan).
They are full of basically honest, middle-class European families, and someone's at the gate all day.
Most people just leave their gear in their vans or zipped inside their tents.
Campgrounds are filled with Europeans in the mood to toss a Frisbee with a new American friend (bring a nylon Woosh Frisbee).
European campers prefer a very lightweight "three-season" sleeping bag and a closed-cell sleeping pad.
I'd start without a stove, keeping meals simple by picnicking and enjoying food and fun in the campground café. Safety: Campgrounds, unlike hostels, are remarkably theft-free.
Most campgrounds have laundry facilities and great showers with metered hot water — carry coins and scrub quickly.
Larger campgrounds may have a grocery store and café (a likely camp hangout with an easygoing European social scene).