Is it possible to start Camel as a standalone application, without embedding it in another application?

Yes Camel can run standalone or in any container. Running Standalone is as simple just to create a CamelContext, add routes and start it. If you don't want to write your own java main, you could use the one from camel-spring (http://camel.apache.org/maven/current/camel-spring/apidocs/) also used by the Camel Maven Plugin.

The starting guide is a good place to start:
Getting Started

And the concrete walk through a plain old java main example:
Walk through an Example

The FAQ have some more details:
Faq

And if you use Maven for your projects Camel has maven tools to boot up in standalone mode and quickly run you Camel application:
Camel Maven Plugin

And check this Cookbook example: Running Camel standalone and have it keep running

This is how you can run the Examples that is included in the Camel distribution.

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